Socialite's revelations on tape about former King cause mounting scandal

Corinna and King Juan Carlos in a file photo from 2006.
Corinna and King Juan Carlos in a file photo from 2006. / SUR
  • Don Juan Carlos is facing criticism as the recordings suggest he hid money, property and business dealings from Spanish tax authorities

It had always been hinted in the gossip columns that top international socialite Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein had shared more than a close friendship with king emeritus Juan Carlos. However this week the past intimacy of the German business woman of Danish origin with the former monarch exploded into full view after the publication of recordings of her discussing their relationship.

The recordings, which have caused a scandal that is growing daily, were made by a former high-profile police official, José María Villarejo, who is currently in jail during an ongoing investigation into money laundering and organised crime. Sources said that the leaking of the tapes could be an attempt by Villarejo allies to incriminate others.

In the tapes, Corinna admits the relationship with Don Juan Carlos and says he used her as a cover to hide property and wealth outside Spain to avoid the tax authorities. She also claims that the head of the CNI, the Spanish intelligence services, threatened her and her children, adding that her homes in London and Monaco had been burgled by agents to remove sensitive documents.

Left-wing party Podemos has asked for a parliamentary commission to investigate, however for the moment the government has limited itself to agreeing that the head of the CNI, General Félix Sanz, should appear before MPs to explain himself.

King Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 in favour of his son and a government spokesperson said that the tapes “don’t affect the [current] head of state, Felipe VI. They are old recordings and we’re not looking at them”. An internal police investigation into the tapes has also started.