Scandal-hit former Spanish king took $1.9m gift in briefcase from Bahrain's sultan, investigators told

James Badcock
Spanish King Juan Carlos I abdicated in 2014 - Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The financial manager of Spain’s former King Juan Carlos has told a Swiss court that the Spanish monarch handed him a briefcase containing $1.9 million in cash, saying it was a gift from the ruler of Bahrain.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, Alberto Fasana, a Geneva-based wealth manager, told Swiss public prosecutor Yves Bertossa that the handover of cash took place in 2010, and that he had deposited the sum in the Swiss bank account belonging to an offshore foundation in Juan Carlos’s name.

As revealed by The Telegraph earlier this year, the Lucum Foundation was set up in Panama City by Juan Carlos in 2008 while he was still on the Spanish throne, initially to hold a $100 million “donation” from late Saudi King Abdullah.

Spain’s King Felipe, who took up the crown when Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, was included in Lucum’s statutes as the fund’s second beneficiary, although the foundation was wound up in 2012 with its 65-million-euro balance being given to Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, the king's former lover.

According to the reported testimony to Mr Bertossa, Mr Fasana described how the Spanish king had handed over what he called a “gift” from Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

“Juan Carlos I is very much appreciated in the Gulf countries. He was returning from Abu Dhabi and came to my house in Geneva. He wanted to have lunch with me. He told me that he had received 1.9 million dollars from the Sultan of Bahrain.”

Lucum Foundation account information seen by The Telegraph show that a deposit of $1.9m was made on April 7, 2010.

In the following years, Juan Carlos went on several trips to Bahrain, accompanying Spanish investors and as a personal guest of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and attending the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Mr Bertossa is investigating possible money laundering offences concerning payments to the Lucum Foundation and Fondation Zagatka, a Liechtenstein-based fund that belongs to Juan Carlos’s cousin, Álvaro d’Orleans-Borbón. The former monarch and King Felipe are also named as beneficiaries of the fund.

Mr Álvaro d’Orleans-Borbón has denied money laundering, and King Felipe said he did not know he had been named as a beneficiary of the foundations until The Sunday Telegraph published the information on March 15.