A Swiss prosecutor is on his probe to find whether the late Saudi king broke any laws while transferring 100 million dollars to a fund controlled by fellow royal Juan Carlos I of Spain in 2008. A hearing was held last month in Geneva by the prosecutor Yves Bertossa to discuss on whether the payment by the late King Abdullah could constitute a crime under Saudi law.
Bertossa solicited the advice in a July 23 letter to the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law. This came after Spanish Supreme Court prosecutors announced they would investigate whether Juan Carlos, abdicated and lost his immunity from prosecution in 2014, could be traced for crimes linked to a high-speed train contract in Saudi Arabia by a Spanish-Saudi consortium.
Bertossa’s scrutiny of King Abdullah can shake up Switzerland’s role as a preferred destination for Saudi wealth. According to the Swiss Bankers Association, the Middle Eastern investors had 432 billion Swiss francs ($464 billion) stored in the country at the end of 2019).
Whereas Saudi government’s Center for International Communication haven’t responded to the emailed questions. Saudi Ministry of Finance, which dealt with the payment, declined to comment on the issue. Bertossa said in his letter that his probe focused on “determining whether this alleged gift should be connected to a corruption scheme.” The letter didn’t mention the rail contract.
The payment was a thank you from King Abdullah for Juan Carlos’s for helping organise a conference in Madrid on religious understanding. Bertossa, in a separate letter to a Spanish judge, drew a connection between the contract and the Saudi payment. It said that the winning bidders offered a discount of as much as 30%.