Princess Cristina's husband gives evidence in Spain fraud case

The husband of Spain's Princess Cristina has told a court he was not aware of questionable billing by a company he co-owned with her and denied demanding a €300,000 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 €6m in public funds for sporting events through the non-profit 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 property firm labelled 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 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 evidence 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 give evidence again on Wednesday. He faces a maximum jail sentence of 19 years if found guilty.

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 give evidence after her husband and is the first Spanish royal to face criminal charges since the monarchy's restoration in 1975.


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