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Spain: Princess Cristina’s husband testifies in fraud case

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Madrid: The husband of Spain’s Princess Cristina testified today that he wasn’t aware of questionable billing by a company he co-owned with her and denied demanding a 300,000 euros (USD 329,000) commission to help the regional Balearic Islands government land a cycling team sponsorship deal.

Inaki Urdangarin, a former Olympics handball star turned entrepreneur, is accused of using his former title of Duke of Palma to embezzle about 6 million euros (USD 6.6 million) in public funds for sporting events through the nonprofit Noos Institute he ran with a business partner.

Questioned for two hours by a prosecutor during the fraud trial for the couple and 16 others, Urdangarin repeatedly said he knew nothing about bills paid by Noos to companies, including his Aizoon real estate firm labeled a “front company” in court documents.

He also denied knowing how Aizoon received money that Valencia’s regional government paid for a sports conference.

“How is it possible that of the 900,000 euros charged for the Valencia Summit more than 400,000 ended up with the company that you own?” asked prosecutor Pedro Horrach. Urdangarin responded, “I don’t know, because I wasn’t the manager.”

He firmly denied earlier testimony by former Balearic Islands regional leader Jaume Matas, who said he approved the 2003 commission deal as a “toll” for Urdangarin’s influence in winning the sponsorship with Banesto, then one of the world’s best cycling teams.

Urdangarin is expected to take the stand again Wednesday. He faces a maximum jail sentence of 19 years.

Cristina, the sister of King Felipe VI, is charged with two counts of tax fraud and faces a possible eight-year sentence.

She is scheduled to testify after her husband and is the first Spanish royal facing criminal charges since the monarchy’s restoration in 1975.

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