Spain’s ex-king leaving country amid allegations of financial misconduct

The Spanish royal family announced on Monday that former king Juan Carlos would leave Spain

The former monarch of Spain, King Juan Carlos I, says he is leaving to live in another country, weeks after he was linked to an investigation into allegations of corruption.

Juan Carlos said he didn't want to make his son's role hard, adding that "my legacy, and my own dignity, demand that it should be so".

The royal website said in a statement that Felipe respected his father's decision.

The royal family's website on Monday published a letter from Juan Carlos to his son, King Felipe VI, saying "I am informing you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain".

Spanish authorities are now investigating whether he received a secret commission for helping to win a £5.5 billion Saudi rail deal after a former mistress made the allegations privately.

Spain's Supreme Court announced in June an investigation to determine the legal responsibility of the ex-monarch - but because of the immunity he holds only for acts committed after his abdication.

"My legacy and my own dignity demand that it should be so", he said without specifying which country he will be moving to.

Since Spain's Supreme Court opened its probe earlier this year, Spanish media outlets have published damaging testimony from a separate Swiss investigation into millions of euros (dollars) that were allegedly given to Juan Carlos by Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah.

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In 2014, Juan Carlos I abdicated in favor of his son Felipe, saying he was aiming for "a drive for renewal, to overcome and correct mistakes and open the way to a decidedly better future".

When former dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975, he handed power to Juan Carlos I, who eventually facilitated the development of a constitutional monarchy.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said he found the allegations against Juan Carlos "disturbing".

The Swiss investigators are not directly investigating Juan Carlos I for the moment, but are looking at three individuals closely liked to him, including Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, who is widely believed to be the former king's ex-lover.

This spring, when media reports accused Juan Carlos I of receiving a €65 million gift from the king of Saudi Arabia, King Felipe VI publicly renounced any inheritance from his father and stripped him of his annual stipend of almost €200,000.

Juan Carlos is now under investigation for allegations that he hid money that came to him via a rail contract in bank accounts in Switzerland. The royal palace also said at the time that Juan Carlos would stop receiving an annual grant of €194,000 ($228,000; £174,520).

It is a humiliating exit for a king who had seemed set to go down in history as the leader who skilfully guided Spain from dictatorship to democracy after the death of General Franco in 1975, the BBC's Nick Beake says.

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