World News

Spanish PM 'disturbed' by allegations of former king's corruption

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday described corruption allegations surrounding former King Juan Carlos as disturbing after several media published details relating to an investigation into possible payments linked to a rail contrcat.

FILE PHOTO: Former Spanish King Juan Carlos attends a bullfighting at the bullring in Aranjuez, Spain, June 2, 2019. REUTERS/Juan Medina -/File Photo

“There are worrying allegations that disturb everyone, myself included,” Sanchez said at a news conference with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte.

In June, Spain’s Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement with a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia after Switzerland’s La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported he had received $100 million from the late Saudi King.

Through his lawyer, Juan Carlos, 82, has repeatedly declined to comment on the allegations.

Over the past week, several Spanish media published further details of that transfer.

“There are media that won’t look the other way, a judiciary that is taking action and the Palace is distancing itself,” Sanchez said.

Spanish monarchs have immunity during their reign but Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, making way for his son Felipe’s ascension to the throne and potentially leaving him vulnerable to prosecution.

King Felipe put an end to his father’s palace allowance and renounced his inheritance in March, following the allegations of secret offshore accounts.

Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and was widely respected for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy.

But his popularity sank in later years, harmed but such episodes as an elephant hunting trip to Africa and a corruption scandal invoving his daughter Cristina and her husband, leading him to step down.

The Geneva prosecutor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Belén Carreño and Nathan Allen; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Angus MacSwan