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Spain's Princess Cristina charged in tax fraud and money laundering case

Princess Cristina and her husband are accused of using money from a shell company they both owned for personal expenses.
By Ananth Baliga Follow @antbaliga Contact the Author   |   June 25, 2014 at 8:16 AM
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MALLORCA, Spain, June 25 (UPI) -- A Spanish judge on Wednesday cleared the way for Princess Cristina to face trial by formalizing charges in a money laundering and tax fraud case against the princess and her husband.

The princess was questioned by the court in February about the business dealings of her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, and is now likely to face trial. The princess' legal team has filed an appeal against the decision. If the princess goes to trial it will be an unprecedented event for the royal family, with the princess facing up to 11 years if convicted.

Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, is suspected of crimes including embezzlement, defrauding the government, influence trafficking and falsifying official documents. The investigation centers around Noos Institute, headed by Urdangarin, which received public funds, and Aizoon SL, a shell company jointly owned by the princess and her husband, which received money from Noos.

Cristina is accused of using Aizoon funds for her personal spending, which meant she was receiving untaxed dividends from the company reducing its taxable profits, according to court papers. Cristina allegedly used these funds to purchase trips to South Africa's Kruger National Park, tickets to Rome's Olympic Stadium and pay for restaurant bills. Funds were also used to refurbish her home and buy a $2,370 crockery set, according to court documents.

Cristina has maintained her innocence received the support of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who said in a televised interview in January that he was convinced the princess was innocent and that she should not give in to calls to give up her royal privileges.

The decision comes as an embarrassment to Spain's King Felipe VI, Cristina's brother, who ascended the throne a mere six days ago.

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