Spain speculates about scandal-hit former king’s whereabouts

MADRID (AFP) – Spanish media speculated yesterday that scandal-hit former king Juan Carlos had gone to the Dominican Republic, a day after he announced he would go into exile, but the royal palace declined to say whether he had left the country.

The 82-year-old – who is under investigation for alleged corruption – revealed on Monday that he had taken the decision to leave Spain to help his son, the current King Felipe VI, “exercise his responsibilities”.

The letter, published on the royal palace’s website, did not mention where the former king would go, nor when exactly he would leave the country.

Daily newspaper ABC reported yesterday that he left Spain and flew to the Dominican Republic via Portugal.

La Vanguardia and El Mundo newspapers also said he planned to stay with friends in the Caribbean country, but online newspaper El Confidencial said he would be in Portugal, where he spent part of his youth.

File photo shows Spanish King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia visiting Ceuta. PHOTO: AFP

Asked by AFP about the reports, a royal palace spokesman refused to give any information about Juan Carlos’ whereabouts.

“The only information we have is the information which was published on the website of the royal palace yesterday. It is the only information which we have,” he said.

Probes are under way in Switzerland and Spain where media regularly publish details of the murky management of funds allegedly paid to the former head of state by Saudi Arabia.

Spain’s Supreme Court announced in June an investigation to determine the legal responsibility of the ex-monarch – but only for acts committed after his abdication in 2014, because of the immunity he holds.

The suspicions centre on USD100 million allegedly paid secretly into a Swiss bank account in 2008.

Juan Carlos ascended the throne in 1975 on the death of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco and ruled for 38 years before abdicating in favour of his son Felipe VI in June 2014.

He was a popular figure for decades, playing a key role in the democratic transition from the Franco dictatorship which ruled Spain from 1939-1975.