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Suspicion sticks to Spanish Duke named in corruption scandal

Olwen Mears

On Wednesday the Attorney's Office decided against formally accusing Iñaki Urdangarín. The court will reach a decision regarding the Infanta Cristina's husband after further analysis of the facts.

  • Iñaki Urdangarín. Photo: EFE

    Iñaki Urdangarín. Photo: EFE

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The shadow of suspicion has fallen onto a member of the Spanish royal family in a case of suspected embezzlement.

The Duke of Palma de Mallorca, former Olympic handball player Iñaki Urdangarín, has been linked to a three-year on-going investigation into the misappropriation of public funds on the Balearic island of Mallorca.

Basque-born Urdangarín’s name was cited in the anti-corruption case after accusations were made about 2.3 million Euros of Balearic public money received by the Noos Institute in 2004 and 2005.

The husband of Spain’s Princess Cristina was president of the institute, dedicated to helping Spanish sports, until 2006. It is alleged he diverted large amounts of money into private company funds by fiddling the accounts.

Gossip has abounded since 2009 when the Duke, his wife the Infanta and their four children moved to Washington DC after a generous job offer. Meanwhile, rumours suggested he had in fact been ordered to leave their Barcelona home (a recently-purchased, new mansion house) by the King of Spain, who disapproved of his son-in-law’s business dealings.

On Wednesday afternoon, the judge in charge of the case ruled that Urdangarín could not be formally accused until the court had heard statements from those already indicted, including the Duke’s former business partner Diego Torres.

Iñaki Urdangarín was born in the Gipuzkoan town of Zumarraga in 1968, the descendent of minor Basque nobles. At the age of 18 he became a professional handball player for FC Barcelona where he stayed until his retirement in 2000.

He was part of the team that represented Spain in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics and met his future wife (the Infanta Cristina) at the Atlanta Games in 1996, marrying her just a year later. He was Spain’s most successful handball player, winning more than forty trophies.

His full name is Iñaki Urdangarin Liebaert.