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Rank No Barrier To Forensic Investigation

Member: Nifa

A Spanish court said last week that it would uphold charges of tax fraud against Cristina de Borbon, the sister of King Felipe VI of Spain in an enquiry into corruption, paving the way for an unprecedented criminal trial.  However, the High Court of Palma de Majorca added that it would drop charges of money laundering against the princess as part of an investigation into her husband’s business dealings.

Forensic investigations have unearthed corruption across Spain involving all manner of people, from politicians to bankers and trade unionists and encompassing everything from ‘backhanders’ at town halls to unchecked spending on company credit cards.  The case centres on Cristina’s husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, who is charged with fraud, falsifying documents and embezzlement. Mr Urdangarin ran a charitable foundation, which is accused of siphoning off €5.8m (£4.5m) in public funds dating back to 2007 and 2008. 

The prosecution alleges that, under the guise of consultancy and organising sports and tourism conferences, he and his former business partner used their connections to win public contracts, overcharged for services and funnelled the money into privately owned companies and offshore tax havens.
The princess was a board member of the foundation and together with her husband owned another company, leading the investigating judge to comment that the husband’s alleged crimes would have been “difficult to commit without at least the knowledge and acquiescence of his wife”.  Many perpetrators of such crimes tie up the proceeds in complex financial arrangements, putting properties and other assets into the names of their spouses in a bid to ‘muddy the waters’.
However, the waters could be thick with mud and it would not deter a dedicated team of forensic investigators, who would patiently unravel each transaction that occurred during the period of investigation, interview key witnesses and note anomalous entries in financial ledgers. They would then produce this evidence for a judge, who would make the final decision on whether to uphold the charges or not, regardless of who the alleged fraudster is.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 18 November 2014

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