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Former King Juan Carlos I Flees Spain Amid Bribery Scandal

Ex-King Juan Carlos Fleeing Spain Amid Scandal
August 4, 2020 - 04:55 / Lucas Anderson

Juan Carlos I of Spain has reportedly fled the country he reigned over for nearly four decades. The former Spanish monarch is involved in a bribery investigation, the fallout of which has prompted his exile. He broke the news to his son, King Felipe VI, by way of a letter, which was released by Spain's Royal Palace on Monday.

Former King of Spain Juan Carlos I has gone into exile in a yet-unknown location.

Juan Carlos, Spain's ruler from 1975 to 2014, exited the country amid scandal. The former monarch is under investigation for his involvement in Spain's acquisition of a Saudi Arabian rail contract — which allegedly included a bribe to the king and use of an offshore account.

He is no longer in Spain and wrote a letter to inform his son of the decision. The Royal Palace released the contents of the letter on Aug. 3.

Ex-King Juan Carlos of Spain's exile letter to Felipe VI

In the letter to his son, King Felipe VI, Juan Carlos said that the fallout of the scandal motivated his departure from Spain. The decision came, he wrote, "in the face of the public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating." He added that he hopes his stepping aside brings "tranquility" to Felipe's reign.

"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 leave Spain," the letter continued. "A decision I make with deep emotion but with great serenity."

Juan Carlos I retreats from the spotlight amid scandal

According to the BBC, Spanish anti-corruption officials launched the investigation into Juan Carlos in June 2020. In June 2014, he had abdicated the throne to Felipe VI, but in the process lost immunity from prosecution. Though he's now fled Spain, the former king has said he'll cooperate with the investigation.

Juan Carlos I and Felipe VI at the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain, 2019.

In the rail contract investigation, Juan Carlos, 82, is alleged to have accepted a $100 million bribe from the King of Saudi Arabia which he then transferred to an offshore account. It's only the latest scandal for the one-time popular monarch, too, as his 2014 abdication came after a corruption investigation surrounding a hunting trip he took with his son-in-law.