Swiss prosecutors drop corruption case against ex-king Juan Carlos

Swiss prosecutors drop corruption case against former Spanish king Juan Carlos over claims he received $100m in kickbacks over Saudi Arabia rail line 

  • Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah paid $100m into Swiss bank account in 2008 
  • Spanish rail firms were granted a lucrative building contract by Saudi in 2011 
  • Juan Carlos had access to the Swiss bank account, and it was alleged the money was paid as part of a bribery scheme 
  • But Swiss prosecutors couldn’t ‘sufficiently’ link the money and train contract

Swiss prosecutors have today dropped an investigation into Spain’s King Juan Carlos over allegations he took bribes from Saudi Arabia over a train line.

The Geneva Attorney General’s office said it was not able to establish a ‘sufficient’ link between money sent to a Swiss bank account by Saudi King Abdullah in 2008, and Spanish firms being handed a lucrative rail-building contract in 2011.

Juan Carlos was known to have access to the Swiss bank account, and in 2018 allegations surfaced that he had received some of the money as a kickback.

But prosecutors said that, while the money had ‘not been sufficiently documented’, they had not been able to prove the central allegation that it amounted to a bribe.

It brings to an end just one of several corruption trials that Juan Carlos is facing after he abdicated his throne in disgrace in 2014, in favour of son King Felipe.  

Swiss prosecutors have dropped a probe into whether Juan Carlos, former King of Spain, was paid $100million by Saudi Arabia as a bribe over a train contract 

Geneva prosecutors opened their probe on August 6, 2018 into suspicions of “aggravated money laundering” against the 83-year-old former monarch following media reports about possible illegal commissions he had pocketed in connection with the high-speed train deal.

A Spanish consortium was awarded the lucrative contract in 2011 to build the high-speed rail link between Medina and Mecca.

The suspicions centred on $100 million that Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah deposited in 2008 into a Swiss bank account to which Juan Carlos had access.

Saudi King Abdullah (pictured) paid the money to a Swiss bank account which Juan Carlos had access to 

The Geneva prosecutors said their investigation had established that the money had indeed been deposited into an account with Geneva bank Mirabaud & Cie belonging to the Lucum foundation, for which Juan Carlos held the economic rights.

They also determined that there was evidence the ex-king transferred the bulk of this money in 2012 to an account in the Bahamas belonging to a company held by his former mistress, German businesswoman Corinna Zu Zein-Wittgenstein.

The prosecutors said that the complexity of the transactions, using a foundation and various companies, “showed a will to dissimulation”, but said there was not enough evidence to proceed.

The ex-king, a key figure in Spain’s transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, has meanwhile also been the target of several probes in Spain over his financial dealings there.

Spanish prosecutors decided earlier this month to push on with their investigation for another six months.

The probes have especially been focused on whether there was any illegal dealings after the former king abdicated in 2004 and lost his immunity.

While he has not been charged with any crime, the probes have tainted his reputation and that of the Spanish monarchy. 


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Juan Carlos (left with wife Sofia) abdicated his throne in disgrace in 2014 in favour of his son King Felipe (right with wife Letizia) 

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