Can the Spanish Princess’ Corruption Inquiry Remind us of U.S. Federal Law?
Spanish Princess Cristina, Duchess of Palma, is the first direct member of the Spanish royal family ever to face a court summons, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. The Princess has been named as a suspect in an investigation encroaching upon the Spanish Royal Family. Princess Cristina was summoned as a witness in the investigation of her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, who is accused of tax evasion and misappropriating public funds. Neither Princess Cristina nor Urdangarin has been charged with a crime.
Allegedly, Urdangarin used public funds intended for the Noos Institute, an organization designed to host tourism events and sports events, to instead support the for-profit company where he was chairman. Urdangarin is also accused of tax evasion.
Originally, Princess Cristina was not named as a suspect in the case. However, as the high-profile investigation began to unravel Wednesday, a judge in charge of the investigative process reversed his original stance after discovering emails that Princess Cristina, who served on the board of the Noos Institute, may have known of Urdangarin’s activities.
In America, the Princess’ involvement in this type of activity may result in a “Conspiracy to Commit Fraud” charge. In the legal sense of the word, “conspiracy” merely means that a.) two or more people had mutual knowledge that an overt act of defrauding would occur and b.) a substantial step or steps had been taken to further the act of defrauding.
For the Princess to be convicted of such a crime, in America mind you, prosecutors would need to prove that a real agreement had been made between Princess Cristina and Urdangarin concerning the alleged siphoning of public funds. Whether or not the emails that surfaced today are substantial enough to prove such an agreement remains to be seen. Furthermore, investigators would conduct what is known as a “substantial step test” to conclude if activities already accomplished by the accused parties constitute a real furtherance of any overt act of fraud. If the actions committed passed a substantial step test, an indictment charging the suspect would follow.