Infanta Cristina of Spain – sister of King Felipe – has today been acquitted of complicity of tax fraud in the Noos case trial.
The Princess, 51, had been charged with tax fraud and money laundering as the case began in 2013, but she has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
She will have to pay a fine of €265,088 fine for “civil responsibility” for benefitting, albeit indirectly and unknowingly, from her husband’s activities, but the Royal was charged as part of a private prosecution from a far-right anti-corruption group.
The Infanta came to be implicated in the trial as she sat on the board of Aizoon, a company that she and her husband administrated, which also had dealings with some of the Noos accounts. Cristina allegedly used an Aizoon credit card to make personal purchases – including dance lessons, home alterations and children’s clothing – then claimed tax deductions. She has been acquitted of these charges.
This was the first time that a member of the Spanish Royal Family has been brought to trial.
Cristina’s husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, however, was found guilty of embezzlement, fraud, influence peddling and tax crimes. The former Olympic handball player has been given a six year and three month prison sentence for his part in the scheme, but prosecutors were asking for 19 years. He also must pay a €512,000 fine.
Neither the Princess or her husband were present at the court in Palma de Mallorca today to hear the sentencing.
The Noos Institute was set up as a non-profit foundation, which obtained government contracts without offering them out to public contractors, because of Urdangarin’s influence as the Princess’ husband. The company secured over €6 million in public contracts won for organising sports and tourism events between 2003-2006.
During the trial, Cristina – the youngest of Felipe’s two sisters – denied all knowledge of any wrongdoing or illicit practices on the part of her husband.
While Urdangarin is considered one of the masterminds behind a scheme, his partner, Diego Torres has been sentenced to eight years and six months in prison, and given a €1,723,843.10 fine for his role in creating the Noos Institute.
According to the court, Torres also evaded over €120,000 in tax by filing personal income as corporate earnings, used “an international network of companies based in Belize and the United Kingdom to conceal the evaded amounts, transform them, and return them to legal circulation through successive fund transfers that ended up in accounts in his name.”
The former premier of the Balearic Islands, Jaume Matas, was a leading defendant in the case. He has been sentenced to three years and eight months in prison for fraud and for deliberately making unlawful decisions while an elected official; furthermore, he is barred from holding a public office for the next seven years.
The Infanta’s lawyer, Miquel Roca, says Cristina is “satisfied that her innocence has been acknowledged” but that she “remains convinced about her husband’s innocence.”
Cristina and her children moved to Geneva, Switzerland, in summer 2013 before the trial began, perhaps hoping to alleviate the public scrutiny on the Royal Family, which is bouncing back a little from the negative public mood that King Juan Carlos brought upon them.