Former Spanish king reportedly in Abu Dhabi amid financial scandal involving late Saudi king

Spain’s former king, Juan Carlos I, has been staying at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Hotel since leaving Spain aboard a private jet under a cloud of financial scandal involving Saudi Arabia, according to Spanish media.

United Arab Emirates officials and the Emirates Palace Hotel did not immediately respond to requests for comment following the report by Spanish national newspaper ABC.

Dogged by mounting corruption allegations, Juan Carlos, 82, abruptly announced his decision to leave Spain on Monday.

But there has been no official confirmation of his whereabouts, setting off an international guessing game.

ABC said a private plane travelling from Paris to Abu Dhabi stopped off in the north-western Spanish city of Vigo to pick up Juan Carlos, four security guards and one other person on Monday morning.

Upon arrival at Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen airport, the ex-king and his entourage were flown by helicopter to the government-owned Hotel Emirates Palace, according to ABC, a pro-monarchy Spanish daily.

Spanish royal family
Former King Juan Carlos, pictured with Spain’s royal family in 2014, has faced a series of scandals over the years.(Reuters: Enrique Calvo)

A palace spokesman said he did not know where Juan Carlos was.

The former king’s lawyer did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

His lawyer, the royal palace and the government have all declined to say where Juan Carlos is.

Some media have speculated Juan Carlos is in a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic and others place him in Portugal, where he spent much of his youth.

But officials in both countries have said they have no knowledge of him arriving.

A man in a suit waves.
The former monarch is not formally under investigation and has repeatedly declined to comment on the allegations.(AP: Andrea Comas)

In June, Spain’s Supreme Court opened a preliminary investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia, after Switzerland’s La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported he had received $100 million from the late Saudi king.

Switzerland has also opened an investigation.

Spaniards took to balconies to bang pots and pans demanding he donate millions he reportedly received to the Spanish health system when the country went into lockdown from March.

The former monarch is not formally under investigation and has repeatedly declined to comment on the allegations.

The lawyer said on Monday his client was at the Spanish prosecutor’s disposal despite his decision to leave.

Spain and Abu Dhabi have an extradition agreement, signed by Juan Carlos himself in 2010.