Spanish government chides ex-king for failure to explain conduct

Spanish government chides ex-king for failure to explain conduct
Spain’s former king Juan Carlos gives the thumbs up before a reception at a nautical club prior to a yachting event in Sanxenxo, north-west Spain (Lalo R. Villar/AP)

A senior Spanish government official has rebuked Spain’s former king, saying Juan Carlos should have used his first trip home from exile to clear the air over investigations into his financial affairs.

Government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez said the ex-monarch “missed an opportunity” to “provide explanations and ask for forgiveness”.

Juan Carlos’s conduct in recent years had been “neither ethical nor exemplary”, she said in an interview with Spanish public radio RNE.

On the other hand, she repeated the Socialist-led coalition government’s support for Juan Carlos’ son and current monarch, Felipe VI, for his efforts to increase financial transparency at the royal household.

Her comments came as Juan Carlos made what was called a private visit to the Zarzuela royal palace in Madrid on Monday, after three days attending a regatta with friends in north-west Spain.

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos poses for photos (Lalo R. Villar/AP)

The financial investigations brought some awkward moments for the government and the royal family.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said Juan Carlos owes the people of Spain an explanation about his financial affairs.

But the former king came back without providing one.

The financial scandals that swirled around 84-year-old Juan Carlos compelled him to move almost two years ago to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, where he has close relationships with local royals.

Juan Carlos’s four-day trip to Spain came after Spanish and Swiss prosecutors shelved their investigations into his finances.

Spanish prosecutors did not find evidence to take the former monarch to court because much of the alleged misbehaviour, involving millions of euros in undeclared accounts, happened when Juan Carlos had legal immunity as king.

Other acts of potential fraud fell outside the statute of limitations.

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