Spanish authorities are investigating whether Juan Carlos – the former King of Spain – received a secret commission for helping to win a £5.5 billion Saudi rail deal, after his former mistress made the allegations privately.
German Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein has been placed under investigation in relation to audio recordings of a meeting between herself and retired Spanish police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo at her London home in 2015.
The investigation into the conversation was initially closed in 2018, but it was reopened yesterday after new evidence emerged, The Times reported, with police discovering other copies of the conversation.
Investigators first shelved the case two years ago because the allegations against Juan Carlos pertain to before his abdication in 2014, when he still held immunity from prosecution.
Investigating judge Manuel García Castellón is now looking into whether Sayn-Wittgenstein commissioned Villarejo – then a serving police officer – to gain information about a Spanish citizen.
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, pictured above in 2019, the former mistress of Spain’s Juan Carlos, has been placed under investigation in Spain in relation to an audio recording of a 2015 conversation she had in London with former Spanish police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo
Court documents stated that there was now sufficient grounds to examine whether a crime has been committed, with the judge saying investigators would gather evidence ‘without prejudice to the fact that this could lead us to other types of infractions’.
The conversation was recorded at Sayn-Wittgenstein’s London home in 2015 after Villarejo asked for a meeting under the pretense that Spain’s intelligence services were plotting to implicate her in criminal activity.
Villarejo went on to leak the tapes of their conversation to the media.
The former police commissioner is currently being held in pretrial custody and is himself facing as many as ten investigations – suspected of running an illicit side-business as a secret fixer for the Spanish elite.
He is facing charges of money laundering, criminal association and bribery of public officials.
Juan Carlos – who is the father of Spain’s current King Felipe VI, is said to have been in a relationship with Sayn-Wittgenstein – a German businesswoman and philanthropist – between 2004 and 2008.
Juan Carlos, pictured left in 2006, is the father of Spain’s current King Felipe VI, and is said to have been in a relationship with Sayn-Wittgenstein, pictured right, between 2004 and 2008
Pictured: Former Spanish police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo arriving at a court in Madrid. The former police commissioner is currently being held in pretrial custody and is suspected of running an illicit side-business as a secret fixer for the Spanish elite
Juan Carlos and his former lover are already facing other legal trouble in Switzerland, where an inquiry is investigating secret offshore accounts linked to the pair.
Swiss prosecutors are examining a €65 million (£59 million) payment the former King made to Sayn-Wittgenstein in 2012 under suspicion of money laundering.
An alleged $100 million donation in 2008 – then worth €65 million – to Juan Carlos from the then-King of Saudi Arabia, is also being looked at by Yves Bertossa, a Swiss prosecutor.
Bertossa is investigating whether the donation and the subsequent payment to Sayn-Wittgenstein were connected to the payment of illegal commissions for the construction of a railway in Saudi Arabia.
The railway was constructed by a Spanish consortium in 2011.
Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein’s legal defence deny the payment was linked with illegal commissions, instead claiming that it was a gift.
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, pictured centre meeting Prince Charles in 2014, is also under investigation in Switzerland under suspicion of money laundering in relation to a €65 million payment payment she received from Juan Carlos in 2012
The payment from Juan Carlos, pictured right meeting Saudi Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018, is being investigated in relation to the payment of illegal commissions for the construction of a railway in Saudi Arabia
Spanish prosecutors are now assessing whether there is sufficient evidence to begin legal proceedings for money laundering and tax crimes against Juan Carlos over the alleged ties and related kickbacks.
A lawyer for Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein, Robin Rathmell, said: ‘Corinna never hired or discussed hiring Villarejo and therefore never paid him for anything,’ according to The Times. ‘Our client will robustly defend her rights against these baseless accusations.’
Sayn-Wittgenstein has previously claimed that the former head of the country’s National Intelligence Centre, General Felix Sanz Roldan, carried out an intimidation and harassment campaign against her under the orders of Juan Carlos after she fell out of favour with the former King.
After she joined him on a controversial hunting trip to Botswana she claims that she received a text message from a security company who said her ‘friends in Spain’ asked them to take care of her and had put French Foreign Legionnaires at her Monaco flat.
In her affidavit, seen by the Sunday Telegraph in March, she said she believes that the company was hired by Roldan as a cover to search her flat for anything that could be embarrassing to the King.
She says that after she refused them entry, she received messages which she believed to be threatening.