DUBAI/CAIRO – Spain’s former king Juan Carlos I has reportedly traveled to the United Arab Emirates after leaving his native country in exile amid a growing financial scandal.
In a shock announcement on Monday, the ex-monarch said he was leaving Spain “in the face of the public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating.”
He had recently been named in two probes, one in Switzerland and one in Spain, scrutinizing a high-speed rail deal with Saudi Arabia amid suspicions he received a gift of $100 million from Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah as a kick-back.
There has been no official confirmation of the emeritus king’s whereabouts but media reports and images have been circulating of his arrival in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
He is reportedly staying in the luxurious five-star Emirates Palace hotel in the city, which has been his favorite destination since his abdication in June 2014.
The ex-king has many friends in the country, including UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum.
He also reportedly has a close relationship with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Bin Zayed and Juan Carlos share a passion for luxury cars and Formula One and met on numerous occasions in public when the Spanish monarch visited the west Asian country.
There has been no confirmation from the Spanish royal household as to the former monarch’s location.
Spain’s press has been flooded with conflicting stories suggesting Juan Carlos, who oversaw the country’s transition from dictatorship to democracy in the 1970s after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, was either in Portugal or the Dominican Republic.
Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez said he respected the decision of the former monarch, adding: “I have no information on his whereabouts.”
The 82-year-old served as the Spanish head of state from 1975 until 2014, when he abdicated in favor of his son, the current King of Spain Felipe VI.
It is unclear how the former king’s decision to relocate abroad will affect his wife of 58 years, Queen Sofia.
Juan Carlos has denied any wrongdoing and said he would be available if prosecutors need to interview him.