King Felipe of Spain Renounces Inheritance to Distance Himself From Father's Financial Scandals

A lengthy statement from the Zarzuela Palace released Sunday also declared that ex-king Juan Carlos would no longer receive an annual state pension

King Felipe VI of Spain and King Juan Carlos
King Felipe VI of Spain and former King Juan Carlos.

In a historic move, King Felipe VI of Spain has renounced his inheritance in an attempt to distance himself from financial scandals swirling around his father, former King Juan Carlos.

A lengthy statement from the Zarzuela Palace released Sunday declared Felipe’s intention to refuse his father’s fortune and ended the former king’s pension. It also declared that Spain’s former monarch would no longer receive an annual state pension, a move the former king agrees with, according to the pronouncement.

These unprecedented moves come as Juan Carlos’s lifestyle and business relationships continue to raise legal concerns.

The 82-year old ex-king — who abdicated six years ago — has until now received a grant of $215,000 annually. This amount will no longer be paid as he faces investigation concerning reports he covertly received $100 million from Saudi Arabia in 2008.

The statement issued Sunday evening in Madrid from the palace declares that “to preserve the exemplar nature of Crown” Felipe has decided “to renounce the legacy of Don Juan Carlos which could have come back to him personally.” The palace also announced Juan Carlos could no longer receive the annual stipend.

King Felipe VI of Spain
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Juan Carlos has been officially withdrawn from public life since May, maintaining a considerably lower profile. After undergoing heart surgery, however, he recently surfaced, attending the celebrity wedding of Rafael Nadal on the Spanish island of Majorca on Oct. 19.

The ex-monarch is facing an investigation from Swiss financial authorities involving funds from at least two separate foundations. Reports in European newspapers, including the Tribune de Geneve, allege $100 million payments made by Saudi rulers to Juan Carlos through a Panama-based foundation called Lucum were later placed in Swiss accounts.

Speculation is that the funds were linked to the award of an $8.5 billion contract awarded Spanish firms in 2011 to build a high-speed train between Mecca and Medina. As much as $75 million from these payments allegedly went from the ex-king to a former mistress and a separate court case involving charges by alleged mistress Corrina zu Sayn-Wittgenstein is set to proceed into British courts.

King Felipe VI of Spain and King Juan Carlos
Queen Letizia, King Felipe VI, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain. A. Ware/NurPhoto via Getty

News reports suggest King Felipe may also have benefitted from these payments since the foundation was established while Juan Carlos was still on the Spanish throne.

The press release from the royal palace acknowledges this last allegation, saying Felipe learned in March of last year of his “supposed designation” as a beneficiary of this foundation. Detailing what is characterized as a “preventive measure,” the statement says he had visited a notary last April to disavow “any profit or participation.”

The Spanish king also disclaims having knowledge of being a potential beneficiary of another foundation called Zagatka which is based in Lichtenstein.

The head of that foundation — a cousin of the king’s — admitted last week in El Pais that though Juan Carlos had no control over the foundation’s assets, the foundation did, in fact, pay for numerous private jet flights before and after his abdication.

King Willem-Alexander Of The Netherlands Celebrates His Birthday With Family And Friends In The Hague
King Felipe and Queen Letizia. Patrick van Katwijk/Getty

In his statement, Felipe sought to distance himself completely from this by renouncing “any asset, investment or financial structure whose origin, characteristics or purpose may not be in agreement with legality, the proper criteria or the integrity governing his institutional and private activity.”

Just last week, the Spanish parliament refused to open a corruption investigation against Juan Carlos whose 40-year reign, a restitution of the throne, began in 1978 under the Franco regime. The Palace statement also indicated that Juan Carlos has now engaged a Spanish law firm in his defense.

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Juan Carlos abdicated in favor of his Georgetown-educated son in June 2014.

The transition from father-to-son occurred after a series of embarrassments involving Juan Carlos which culminated most notably in his apologizing publicly for having left Spain during an economic crisis to enjoy an elephant hunt in Africa with his mistress. Prior to Juan Carlos’s withdrawal from public life last year, the monarchy had further endured another embarrassment when Felipe’s brother-in-law was convicted in court and sentenced to five years in jail after embezzling from a charity he oversaw in Mallorca.

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