The Return of the King

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Spanish prosecutors dropped three cases against former King Juan Carlos this week, citing insufficient evidence, the statute of limitations and the monarch’s constitutional immunity, the Guardian reported Thursday.

The 84-year-old royal had been embroiled in a number of damaging scandals concerning his business dealings that prompted him to flee the country to the United Arab Emirates in 2020.

In one of the cases, authorities probed Juan Carlos’ involvement in a deal in which a Spanish firm won a $7.4 billion contract to build a high-speed rail line in Saudi Arabia. The investigation looked into the nature of a $72 million payment that the late Saudi King Abdullah paid into a Swiss bank account that Juan Carlos had accessed in 2008.

The former king’s lawyers said that the money was a gift.

Prosecutors also said that they were shelving another case examining the connection between Juan Carlos and a tax haven in Jersey.

Officials added that they had identified “sums defrauded from the Inland Revenue relating to personal income tax between 2008 and 2012,” but said it was too late to bring charges in some counts while others were covered by the king’s immunity.

That the charges have been dropped means the former king can now return home even as he remains a divisive figure in Spain.

Initially lauded for bringing democracy back to Spain following the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos abdicated following plummeting popularity and a series of scandals involving the royal family, the Associated Press noted.

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