The slogan that "The Treasury is all of us" is the nearest thing to a joke. We have known this for years and whenever a new case comes to light, new evidence that the truth is not what they claim, we feel shocked for a while and then nothing happens. The news devours issues at a speed that makes them all ephemeral. But even so, there are few reports more shocking than that of a former Spanish head of state regularizing the tax crime he has committed. On Wednesday, lawyer Javier Sánchez-Junco Mans, who represents retired king Juan Carlos I in the case of the opaque credit cards - those Visa cards that several members of the Spanish royal family used regularly for all kinds of expenses and whose expenses were paid by a third party - made a statement in which he deigned to inform us that Juan Carlos had "proceeded to submit a declaration to the competent tax authorities, without a prior requirement to do so, which has resulted in a tax debt, now paid, for a sum of €678,393.72, including interest and surcharges".
A curious way to explain that a crime was committed, while transforming it into a voluntary statement. After the publication, over the years, of countless journalistic reports about irregularities - or, openly, corruption - it turns out that, now, by magic, Spain's king emeritus can put his situation with the Treasury in order and thus avoid the criminal investigation into the opaque cards which the Treasury has already spoken of. He must have made this move because he was playing this game on his own; but it is difficult to understand. Could it be, perhaps, that with the inspectors as busy as they are, his investigation was being processed and he has had enough time to fulfill his obligations?
As the saying goes, action speaks louder than words. Thus, in the then-king's Christmas speech to Spaniards in 2011, in the middle of the court case that affected his son-in-law, Iñaki Undargarin, he proclaimed: "Everybody, especially those with public responsibilities, has a duty to observe appropriate behaviour, exemplary behaviour". Nearly nine years have passed since that televised sermon, more than six since his hasty abdication from the throne when he was already in the midst of corruption cases, and more than three months since his flight to the United Arab Emirates.
In a Spain which was once so loyal to him personally that there was a word invented for it - juancarlista - and which now hurriedly tries to be officially monarchic, it will be very difficult for the regime to once again become airborne. Above all, because this has only just begun. If we stop to think about the 65 million euros in commissions from Saudi Arabia that ended up in the hands of so-called princess Corinna, a simple calculation makes it easy to see that the amount of the former king's complementary tax declaration is equivalent to a little more than 1% of the commission that ended up in Switzerland.
And the corruption cases will not end here. Because, in the end, there is nothing more difficult than trying to re-seal a bottle that was closed under pressure and remained so for many, many years. And to add insult to injury, those in the circles of the king emeritus say that he is bored and wants to return to Spain for the holidays, an action that would be somewhere between recklessness and provocation. And his son, the current king, maintains silence in the Zarzuela palace, while the Spanish government looks the other way. Lucky for Felipe, they do it every day: it's not just a fluke that they are experts on the subject.