Geneva Prosecutors Close Spain-Saudi Money Laundering Probe
(Bloomberg) -- Geneva prosecutors closed a probe into five people suspected of money laundering in a case that looked at donations by the late king of Saudi Arabia to fellow royal Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain.
They had opened the investigation in 2018 following press reports into whether Juan Carlos de Borbon Y Borbon, who abdicated from the Spanish throne in 2014, had received illicit bribes linked to a high-speed train contract in Saudi Arabia won by a Spanish-Saudi consortium, the prosecutor’s office said.
During the course of their probe, Geneva prosecutors had zeroed in on a $100 million payment that King Abdullah ordered to an account at Banque Mirabaud held by a foundation of which the king was the main beneficiary.
However, they decided to close their case after deciding the payment was not linked to wrongdoing. The five people under investigation were not named by Swiss prosecutors, as is often the case under Swiss law.
“The investigation didn’t sufficiently establish a link between the amount received from Saudi Arabia and the conclusion of contracts for construction of the high-speed train,” according to a statement from the prosecutors.
Javier Sanchez-Junco Mans, a lawyer for Juan Carlos, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, Juan Carlos’s former lover who received a 65 million-euro ($73.4 million) payment from the former monarch that originated in the Mirabaud account had also been investigated. She is now suing Juan Carlos for harassment in a U.K. court in separate proceedings, in which he has pleaded immunity.
“I have finally been cleared of wrongdoing of any kind,” zu Sayn-Wittgenstein said in a statement. “My innocence was evident at the outset.”
Banque Mirabaud was fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,248) for not following all of its obligations to report suspicious activity under Swiss anti-money laundering rules, and ordered to pick up 150,000 francs in costs related to the case.
In a statement, Mirabaud said it welcomed the closure of the probe, which confirms “that no money laundering offence has been committed by the bank.”
Yves Mirabaud, the bank’s chairman has been “fully exonerated from any liability for an alleged breach” of money-laundering reporting duties, it said. The fine, the bank added, doesn’t relate to the account linked to Juan Carlos, but rather to a separate transaction that took place a decade ago.
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