The murky fortune of former Spanish king Juan Carlos I has long been rumoured to be spread around the world and now that the investigative siege on the emeritus monarch's alleged corruption is tightening, new information is appearing almost daily about the Bourbon family patriarch's assets.
Just yesterday it was learned that Juan Carlos had, until 2018, maintained an account containing almost 8 million euros in Switzerland, a fact that could remove one of the major obstacles to bringing the ex-monarch to justice, since in June 2014, when he abdicated, he lost his status of inviolability for criminal offences. Up till now, most of the known financial scandals affecting Juan Carlos seem concentrated in the earlier period, when he was still Spanish head of state and thus may be immune from prosecution.
Today a further episode has emerged, and this one does indeed date from the days when he reigned as king of Spain: from the distant year of 2002, and the even more distant Kazakhstan, the former Soviet republic then ruled by president-dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was in power until 2019.
According to Spanish digital daily eldiario.es, which quotes a direct witness - Victor Khrapunov, the former mayor of the country's largest city Almaty - the then-Spanish king made a private trip to the country in October 2002, at the personal invitation of Nazarbayev, to take part in a wild goat hunt. It was one of many shadowy trips that Juan Carlos made during his reign, not included in the official agenda and of which no explanation was ever given, until the 2012 Botswana incident, when Juan Carlos broke his hip while hunting elephants, and subsequently other cases began to come to light as well.
The excuse that the journey to Kazakhstan was private made the secrecy possible, although the Spanish government mobilized its diplomacy to support the monarch, and a luncheon was held in the company of the then-Spanish ambassador in that country, Francisco Pascual de la Parte, of which photographs exist, published by eldiario.es.
Hunting, alcohol, sauna and female companions
According to the Spanish newspaper, the trip included several days of hunting, with alcohol, sauna and escort girls at the Kazakh president's side. Amongst all this entertainment, the monarch also took the opportunity to try to make deals for Spanish companies such as Repsol and Talgo.
However, the murkiest aspect of all, as eldiario.es describes it, were the briefcases that boarded the plane with Juan Carlos for the return journey. Khrapunov - the municipal authority who went to farewell the monarch - says he saw Nazarbayev's bodyguards get on board with "four or five black briefcases and then disembark without them". Some time later, Khrapunov learned that there were five million dollars in cash in these briefcases. The person who informed him was none other than the son-in-law of the then-president, Rakhat Aliiev, who claimed that it was a kind of personal gift from Nazarbayev to Juan Carlos, who apparently returned the favour two years later, inviting the president of Kazakhstan to the wedding of his son, current king Felipe VI, whose silence about his father's affairs speaks volumes.