Saturday, January 16

The Swiss bank did not require the king emeritus to declare the 65 million of Saudi Arabia | Spain


Juan Carlos I, King Emeritus of Spain, in a 2014 image.
Juan Carlos I, King Emeritus of Spain, in a 2014 image.Juan Medina / REUTERS

Juan Carlos I did not declare to the Treasury the 65 million he had in a Swiss bank on behalf of the Lucum foundation. No one in that country demanded that those millionaire assets emerge in Spain, not when he opened the account in 2008, nor when he had millionaire amounts of it, nor when he transferred the funds four years later to the tax haven of Nassau (Bahamas). This is clear from the statements before the Swiss prosecutor Yves Bertossa of the small group of people who knew of the existence of this hidden fortune in the Mirabaud & Cie bank, to which EL PAÍS has had access.

The money was received by the King Emeritus as a donation from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance. Juan Carlos I has not regularized these 65 million because the tax crime has already prescribed and because at the time of receiving and administering them he enjoyed the inviolability that he lost when he abdicated in June 2014. The emeritus king has just regularized the donations before the Tax Agency of a Mexican businessman.

Not the president of the Swiss bank where the money was deposited in August 2008, Yves Mirabaud; nor the owner of Gonet & Cie, the entity that received in its Bahamas subsidiary the 64.8 million donated in 2012 by the king emeritus to Corinna Larsen; neither did Arturo Fasana, the external manager of the account, or Dante Canonica, the director of the Lucum foundation, demanded Juan Carlos I to regularize his situation with the Spanish Tax Agency. From their statements it is clear that everyone was aware of their fiscal opacity.

– Was the subject of the control of these assets discussed within the Council of Associates? [preguntó el fiscal Bertossa a Yves Mirabaud, presidente del consejo del banco y expresidente de la Asociación de Bancos Privados de Suiza].

-I do not remember. I don’t remember if it was talked about between 2008 and 2012 [respondió el banquero].

The Council of Associates was made up of six people, the only ones familiar with the account of the emeritus king, and the contract was kept in a safe. Mirabaud is being investigated as a legal entity for money laundering.

Thevenoz, administrator of the bank since December 2013, has also testified at the headquarters of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Geneva and has been questioned about the taxation of the Lucum Foundation.

– Do you know if Juan Carlos I was fiscally subject to tax in Spain?

—We do not have precise information about it, but we can find out [respondió].

—Juan Carlos I declared the funds of the Lucum Foundation to the Spanish treasury? [interrogó el fiscal ginebrino a Fasana, gestor externo de la cuenta, e investigado por blanqueo agravado de capitales].

-Not that I know of. You should ask him that question [respondió lacónico].

—Juan Carlos I was uncomfortable with the donation of the King of Saudi Arabia when it was known that at the same time Spain was affected by the economic crisis and that the royal family annually receives significant sums from Spanish taxpayers to maintain their way of life? [volvió el fiscal].

—We never discussed issues like that with Don Juan Carlos I. He came to tell me about the difficult economic situation in Spain, but he never let me know how he felt about his personal situation, which was quite well-off … From an ethical point of view I may have a personal opinion, but with my clients I have to take a purely professional position.

—As a professional, did you take any steps to ensure the tax compliance of that money?

—No, however, at that time 80%, or even more, of foreign clients who owned assets in Switzerland had not declared their assets in their countries of origin. Things changed radically at the end of 2011 or 2012. In Spain there was a tax amnesty. For my part, most of my clients [Rhone Gestion, SA, tiene alrededor de 400] they regularized their situation in Spain. Those who did not want to do so left Rhone Gestion, SA.

Dante Canonica, the secretary of the Lucum Foundation, also had to answer about the opacity of that fortune. “I have no idea,” snapped the lawyer when asked whether Juan Carlos I was subject to taxation in Spain. And the prosecutor, annoyed, asked him how he considered his response from a “perspective of irreproachable activity” in his tenure as secretary of the foundation. “In 2008 I don’t think that posed a problem. There were still many Spanish residents, even all of them, who had placed a part of their undeclared assets in Switzerland, ”Canonica defended.

To Bertossa’s question about the reasons for the account closure in June 2012, he responded as follows: “I was not comfortable [Juan Carlos I] with the bank account in Switzerland. In addition, to the extent that the automatic exchange of information was being discussed [fiscal] that it was going to take place in the medium term, the presence of that account was a time bomb … I wanted to get rid of that money because I was afraid it would be known ”.

Corinna Larsen, the examiner of the king emeritus, told Bertossa that she did not know if the 64.8 million she received at the Gonet & Cie bank in the Bahamas had been declared. “I heard vaguely about a tax amnesty in Spain, but since I do not live in that country I do not know the details,” he said. The German consulting firm tried to convince Bertossa that she did not choose the glassy tax haven of Nassau (Bahamas) to hide the money.

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