Iñaki Urdangarin

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Iñaki Urdangarin
Iñaki Urdangarín.jpg
Urdangarin in 2010
Personal information
Birth name Iñaki Urdangarin Liebaert
Born (1968-01-15) 15 January 1968 (age 50)
Zumárraga, Basque Country, Spain
Sport Handball

Iñaki Urdangarin Liebaert[1] (born 15 January 1968) is a retired Spanish handball player turned entrepreneur and brother-in-law of King Felipe VI. Urdangarin was convicted of embezzling about 6 million euros in public funds for sporting events since 2004 through his nonprofit foundation, the so-called Nóos case, and of political corruption by using his former courtesy title of Duke of Palma de Mallorca as the husband of the Infanta Cristina, daughter of King Juan Carlos. He is currently imprisoned in Ávila.

Early life and education[edit]

Urdangarin is the son of Juan María Urdangarin Berriochoa (b. Zumárraga, 19 September 1932 - d. Vitoria-Gasteiz, 10 May 2012), engineer and businessman in the chemical and the banking industries, and wife Claire Françoise Liebaert Courtain (b. Antwerp, 16 July 1935), of Spanish Basque and Belgian (both Walloon and Flemish) descent respectively. He has six siblings. His paternal grandparents Laureano de Urdangarin y Larrañaga (1898–1982) and wife Ana de Berriochoa y Elgarresta (1902–1996) came from the tiny and humble Basque village of Zumarraga.

He obtained an MBA after a "tailor made study".[2]

Sports career[edit]

At the age of 18, Urdangarin became a professional handball player with FC Barcelona Handbol, where he remained until his retirement in 2000. Meanwhile, he studied at the Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas (ESADE) in Barcelona, from which he received a master's degree in business administration.

As a member of the Spanish handball team, he participated in the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Summer Olympics, serving as team captain in 2000. The team won the bronze medal in 1996 and 2000.

Urdangarin has been a member of the Spanish Olympic Committee since 4 April 2001, and was elected first deputy chairman on 16 February 2004. In 2001, he received the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sports Merit;[3] which also allows him to be addressed as The Most Excellent.[4]

Corruption and money laundering[edit]

In November 2011, Urdangarin was accused of diverting public funds for his own profit through the non-profit Nóos institute in the 'Palma Arena' case.[5] The Spanish Anticorruption bureau conducted searches at the Nóos institute.[6] The daily El País published a budget document for an international event organized by the Noos institute.[7] It is believed that he persuaded various Spanish public administrations (mostly regional governments) to sign agreements with the Nóos Institute for both work that was never done and work that was dramatically overstated up to €5,800,000 from public administrations.[8]

In December 2011, the Anticorruption Bureau confirmed that Urdangarin had been sending substantial sums of public money to accounts in Belize and the United Kingdom. That same month, the Royal Household of Spain announced that Urdangarin would not participate in any official Royal Family activity for the foreseeable future, as a result of the scandal.[9] In his 2011 Christmas Eve National Speech, King Juan Carlos stated that "La justicia es igual para todos" ("Justice is the same for everyone"); the following day he clarified that he was speaking generally.[10]

On 6 February 2012, Urdangarin appeared before a judge regarding allegations of corruption.[11] He is being investigated with 14 others, including Jaume Matas, former premier of the Balearics.[12] He appeared again on 25 February 2012 in Mallorca to answer questions before the investigating judge, José Castro.[13]

On 26 January 2013, the Spanish royal household removed the section covering Iñaki Urdangarin from its official website.[2]

Since 12 June 2015, he is no longer referred to as the Duke of Palma de Mallorca following the removal of that title from his wife the Infanta Cristina.[citation needed]

On 10 June 2016 Prosecutor Pedro Horrach called for Urdangarin to be jailed for 19 and a half years and to be fined 980,000 euros. He was sentenced to six years and three months of jail and a fine of €512,000 on 17 February 2017.[14][15] On 12 June 2018 the Supreme Court of Spain in appeal sentenced Urdangarin to five years and ten months imprisonment. On 18 June 2018, he reported to the prison of Brieva in Ávila.

Personal life[edit]

According to the Royal Household, Urdangarin met the Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.[dubious ] However Consuelo León Llorente and María Molina maintain in their book, Infanta Cristina, that they met in 1992. They married in Barcelona on 4 October 1997. The couple have four children, all born at Teknon Medical Centre in Barcelona: Juan (born 29 September 1999), Pablo (born 6 December 2000), Miguel (born 30 April 2002), and Irene (born 5 June 2005).[2] As is social custom in Spain, Urdangarin was often accorded the male form of his wife's title with the courtesy title of Duke of Palma de Mallorca since his marriage.[1] Cristina would lose this title in 2015.

The family lived in Barcelona from 1997 until 2009, where Urdangarin was director of planning and development for Motorpress Ibérica and a founding partner of Nóos Consultoría Estratégica.[citation needed] From 2009 to 2011, they lived in Washington, D.C., where he worked for Telefónica, before returning to Barcelona.[citation needed] In August 2013 Urdangarin remained in Barcelona to stand trial, while his wife and children moved to Geneva, Switzerland, to work with the Caixabank Foundation.[18] He joined the family a short time later.[citation needed]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]


Styles of
Don Iñaki Urdangarin Liebaert
Coat of arms of Iñaki Urdangarín.svg
Reference style His Excellency
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Don
  • 15 January 1968 – 4 October 1997: Mr Iñaki Urdangarin Liebaert
  • 4 October 1997 – 12 June 2015: His Excellency The Duke of Palma de Mallorca
  • 12 June 2015 – present: His Excellency Don Iñaki Urdangarin Liebaert[19]

Despite the revocation of his wife's Ducal title, Inaki Urdangarin retains the honorific of "Excellence" as a Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Sports Merit.[20]

In view of contradictory Spanish legislation, enacted over the past 30 years, Urdangarin was not entitled to use the ducal title of his wife [21] (Royal Decree 1368/1987, Transitory Provisions, Third).[22] But by centuries-old social convention in Spain, he was considered a duke.[23] As such, by the same social convention he was styled as "His Excellency", but as a Grand Cross he is also officially addressed with this style.[24]


See also List of honours of the Spanish Royal Family by country


  1. ^ Blog Con propósito de enmienda, about the proper way to his name, which only can be written with accent in Spanish. In Basque it is written without accent. (in Spanish)
  2. ^ a b c Luis Gómez (11 February 2014). "How an ideal couple's life went to hell". El Pais. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Royal Decree 1369/2001
  4. ^ Ordenanzas de la Real Orden del Mérito Deportivo, Art. 19 Real Decreto 1523/1982 - official website of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (in Spanish)
  5. ^ Manresa, Andreu; García, Jesús (9 November 2011). "Iñaki Urdangarin is involved in the 'Palma Arena' case". El Pais (in Spanish). 
  6. ^ Manresa, Andreu; García, Jesús (8 November 2011). "Anticorrupción registra la fundación de Iñaki Urdangarin". El Pais (in Spanish). 
  7. ^ "Los sospechosos precios especiales del Instituto Nóos". El Pais (in Spanish). 9 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Muñoz, Pablo (10 December 2011). "Los gestores de Nóos facturaron al Instituto 1.700.000 euros cuando ya no funcionaba". ABC.es (in Spanish). 
  9. ^ "Instituto Nóos scandal". El Mundo (in Spanish). 12 December 2011. 
  10. ^ The Big Picture, boston.com, January 2009; Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Spanish duke Inaki Urdangarin to appear before judge". BBC News. 9 December 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  12. ^ Mallet, Victor (December 29, 2011). "Spanish duke faces corruption charges". Financial Times. 
  13. ^ "Spanish duke Inaki Urdangarin questioned over corruption". BBC News. 25 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Freispruch für Cristina - Haft für ihren Mann". tagesschau.de (in German). 17 February 2017. Archived from the original on 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  15. ^ "Spain's Princess Cristina cleared in tax trial". BBC News. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  16. ^ "Urdangarin, Ni Duque Ni De Palma". Diario Público. Madrid. January 31, 2013. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013. The Infanta Cristina is the Duchess, but he only consort so, under the law, the king can not take a title where there was none 
  17. ^ The Crown Archived 2007-12-12 at the Wayback Machine. - Official site of the Royal Household of HM the King
  18. ^ "Spain king's daughter moves to Switzerland amid corruption investigation". thetelegraph.co.uk. 31 Jul 2013. 
  19. ^ (in Spanish) The King revokes the title of Duchess of Palma use by his sister doña Cristina, Europapress (15-06-11) (Acceded on 12 June 2015)
  20. ^ ABC.es Royal decree http://www.abc.es/casa-del-rey/rey-felipe-vi/20150612/abci-recoge-revocacion-titulo-duquesa-201506120740.html
  21. ^ "Urdangarin, Ni Duque Ni De Palma". Diario Público. Madrid. January 31, 2013. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013. The Infanta Cristina is the Duchess, but he only consort so, under the law, the king can not take a title where there was none 
  22. ^ The Crown - Official site of the Royal Household of HM the King
  23. ^ Matthew Hovious. "In Re Genealogica: Duchy Original: The Palma Title At Home and Abroad". matthewhovious.blogspot.com. 
  24. ^ (in Spanish) Ordenanzas de la Real Orden del Mérito Deportivo, Art. 19 Real Decreto 1523/1982 - official website of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport
  25. ^ (in Spanish) Royal Decree 1369/2001 The Duke of Palma member of the Royal Order of the Sports Merit.).
  26. ^ "Consulta de información de bomec". mec.es. 
  27. ^ Foro Dinastías, State visit of Luxembourg in Spain, 2001, Group Photo