Urdangarin and the Nóos case, emblem of a dark time

The imprisonment of a member of Spain's royal family will mark a before and after

On Wednesday morning the Court of Palma is expected to notify Iñaki Urdangarin, the king's brother-in-law, and the rest of those convicted in the Nóos case, of the date on which they will enter prison, after the Supreme Court confirmed the main convictions on Tuesday. After reviewing the ruling, the Supreme Court reduced Urdangarin's sentence by five months, to a final total of 5 years and 10 months. In the case of the Infanta Cristina (the king's sister), the Supreme Court reduced the fine imposed for benefitting from the crimes from 265,088€ to 136,950€.

There is no doubt that the imprisonment of a member of Spain's royal family will mark a before and after, even though it has already been taken into account in the public consciousness. Indeed, this scandal played an important part in the decision by King Juan Carlos to abdicate in favor of his son, King Felipe, so as to try to salvage the damaged prestige of the monarchy. And the current king is the one who has made the most painful decisions, such as revoking the titles of Duke and Duchess of Palma for the couple.

The royal family saw clearly from the moment that the case came to light that it would have to create a firewall, but that it would be impossible to save Urdangarin, who had to be sacrificed on the altar of justice. That's why he was left on his own. Cristina de Borbón is the only person who has remained at the side of her husband, despite the evidence of corruption and illicit profiting from his position as a member of royalty. And she has not even renounced her dynastic rights.

It remains unclear if the Nóos case is merely the product of the whims of a character like Diego Torres, Urdangarin's partner, or whether it is the tip of the iceberg of corruption within the royal family. But what is certain is that it will go down in history as the emblem of an era, of the real-estate boom and institutional corruption on a grand scale, in which public money flowed happily towards private pockets with nary any checks. It is hardly surprising that Urdangarin and Torres cast their nets over the Balearic and Valencian regional governments (they tried with Catalonia’s, but received a "no" for an answer), presided over at that time by Jaume Matas, also convicted in the case, and Francisco Camps, whose legal ordeal has only just begun.

What the Urdangarin-Torres duo sold was very sweet: direct contact with the monarchy and the biggest sporting events, which allowed them to move huge sums of money. It was the time when Valencia was hosting the America's Cup, and large sums were paid to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix, infrastructures that today are in disuse and are a symbol of the waste of public resources.

It is pure coincidence that this same week rulings were handed down finding that the Valencia PP funded its election campaigns illegally; and this comes on the heels of the ruling in the Gürtel case, which led to a vote of no-confidence against Mariano Rajoy. Now it is Iñaki Urdangarin's turn, tried thanks to the perseverance of Judge José Castro. And there is no end in sight to the avalanche of rulings in corruption cases.

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