Yves Bertossa, the Swiss prosecutor investigating the finances of Spain's Juan Carlos I and his former lover Corinna Larsen, (also known under her married name, Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein) has now included in the investigation a stately English country home located near Bridgnorth, in what is described as a very private Shropshire location, close to the Welsh border. The ex-lover of Spain's king emeritus bought the property in 2015 for six million pounds - about 6.7 million euros. In addition, Larsen has acknowledged that she invested a similar amount in renovating the estate, according to the Spanish newspaper El País.
Officially, the owner of the mansion is the Panamanian foundation Jade Trust, whose beneficiary is Larsen's son, Alexander, now aged 18. The property, known as the Chyknell Hall estate and built in 1814, covers about 81 hectares, including an 11-bedroom mansion, a cricket ground, a library, as well as having five other cottages on the property. The key element to note is that in 2012, Larsen received a donation from Spain's then-head of state Juan Carlos I worth 64.8 million euros, a sum transferred from a Swiss account of the Panamanian foundation Lucum, which acted as a proxy for the Spanish king.
An "opaque structure"
Specifically, prosecutor Bertossa is investigating the luxury home not only because it was acquired after Juan Carlos's gift to his former companion, but also because of the "opaque structure" Larsen created around her son, then aged 13. Moreover, Larsen acquired this mansion through a loan from her Panamanian company Solare, which was the ultimate beneficiary of the former monarch's donation, with the proceeds of the loan being paid to Honeybird Group Corporation, a company registered in Panama on March 12th, 2015.
Bertossa has questioned Larsen about the purchase of this property and, according to her statement, she replied: "I bought it for my son Alexander in 2015. I paid six million pounds. It was not in a good state, so I invested in major renovations that covered about another six million pounds. "
She also added: "It's true that the acquisition was made via a Solare loan in favour of Honeybird Corporation. I acquired this mansion through a trust which had my son as a beneficiary. I used this structure because I believed that my son, when he reached legal age, would not be mature enough to manage this property. He was 13 when we bought the mansion." In addition, the Spanish king emeritus's former lover acknowledged that Dante Canónica, Juan Carlos's lawyer in Switzerland, was the director of Juan Carlos I's Lucum Foundation, as well as the person who created the Panamanian structures to buy the mansion.
Larsen explained that when her son acquired British nationality, the administrative structure of the property "had to be modified a little”. That is why the German businessperson created a new trust in Panama, she said. "We created Jade Trust, which replaced Solare (the foundation originally created), as a lender in order to buy the property. In other words, Solare's initial loan will have to be repaid to Jade Trust, which has my son as beneficiary," said Larsen, according to the Swiss prosecutor's account, to which El País has had access.