Spain's Former King Juan Carlos Announces He's Leaving the Country amid Financial Scandal

Peter Mikelbank
·2-min read

Carlos Alvarez/Getty King Juan Carlos of Spain

Spain's former King Juan Carlos I has announced he is leaving the country as he faces continuing financial scandal.

In a letter sent to his son King Felipe and posted on the Zarzuela Palace website on Monday, the 82-year-old announced his intention to move to another country outside the nation's borders "in the face of the public repercussion that certain past events in my private life are generating," he writes.

"A year ago I expressed my will and desire to stop developing institutional activities," the ex-King continues.

"Now, guided by the conviction of providing the best service to the Spaniards, their institutions and you as King, I communicate to you my thoughtful decision to move, at this time, outside of Spain.

He adds that it is a decision he makes "with deep feeling, but with great serenity. I have been King of Spain for almost forty years and for all of them I have always wanted the best for Spain and for the Crown."

In the same royal household posting, his son King Felipe VI accepted his father's decision "with heartfelt gratitude."

King Felipe VI of Spain and former King Juan Carlos

Juan Carlos served as King from 1975 until he abdicated in his son's favor in 2014. His unparalleled decision to leave the country comes as a series of financial scandals and criminal investigations in several countries encircle the ex-King.

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In June, Spain's Supreme Court announced it was formally investigating the ex-monarch concerning an alleged $ 100 million in kickbacks related to his role in the award of an $8.5 billion Saudi high-speed rail contract awarded a consortium of Spanish firms in 2011.

That investigation mirrors one begun by Swiss authorities based on news reports that Saudi rulers allegedly made payment to the former monarch through a Panama-based foundation called Lucum. These funds were reportedly later transferred to Swiss accounts. In addition, as much as $75 million allegedly went to his former mistress Corrina zu Sayn-Wittgenstein in 2012.

Daniel Perez/Getty King Juan Carlos of Spain

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Sayn-Wittgenstein has placed a separate suit in British courts claiming she was harassed by Spain's intelligence services for her extensive knowledge of Juan Carlos' financial dealings.

In March of this year, the royal household took the unprecedented step of publicly separating Juan Carlos from his son by announcing the end of the ex-King's pension, as well as Felipe VI's renouncing future inheritance.