Former Spanish king Juan Carlos 'leaves country' amid corruption scandal

3 August 2020, 20:59

Juan Carlos said he plans to move into exile
Juan Carlos said he plans to move into exile. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos has left the country while mired in a corruption scandal, it has been reported. 

The 82-year-old wrote to his son and successor, King Felipe VI, on Monday evening to say he had decided to move into exile. 

"Guided by the conviction to best serve the people of Spain, its institutions, and you as King, I inform you of my decision at this time to go into exile outside Spain," Juan Carlos wrote.

He added: "It's a decision I take with deep anguish, but great peace of mind.”

The current premier accepted his decision, the royal palace said in a statement.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo quoted sources as having indicated he "has already left the country" as of Monday, however this has not been officially confirmed.

It is unclear which country he has chosen to reside in.

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In his letter, he said he made the decision against the backdrop of "public repercussions of certain episodes of my past private life."

He explained that he wants to ensure he does not make his son's role difficult, adding: "My legacy and my own dignity, demand that it should be so."

The Spanish supreme court opened an investigation in June into his involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia.

It came after Switzerland's La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported Carlos had received $100m (£75m) from the late Saudi King in 2008.

He has not commented publicly on the allegations.

Businesswoman Corinna Larsen claimed he had transferred her nearly €65m in 2012 “out of gratitude and love”, from the alleged $100m Saudi gift. 

Spain's prime minister recently said he found the developments about Juan Carlos - including investigations in Spain and Switzerland - "disturbing".

Carlos began his reign in 1975, following the death of dictator Francisco Franco.

He was celebrated for thwarting a military coup in 1981, but has faced a series of corruption controversies since his abdication in June 2014.