by Scott Mehl
Iñaki Urdangarín y Liebaert
Iñaki Urdangarín y Liebaert is the husband of Infanta Cristina of Spain. He was born on January 15, 1968 in Zumarraga, Spain, one of seven children of Juan Urdangarín Berriochoa and Claire Liebaert Courtain.
In 1986, at the age of 18, he became a professional handball player with FC Barcelona, where he remained until his retirement in 2000. During his career, he was a member of the Spanish Olympic Handball Team in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics, winning bronze in 1996 and 2000, and serving as team captain in 2000. After his retirement, he served on the Spanish Olympic Committee from 2001-2005.
While participating in the 1996 Olympics, he met Infanta Cristina of Spain. The couple were married on October 4, 1997 in Barcelona. By courtesy, he took on the male form of his wife’s title, and became Duke of Palma de Mallorca. The couple have four children:
- Juan Urdangarín y de Borbón (1999)
- Pablo Urdangarín y de Borbón (2000)
- Miguel Urdangarín y de Borbón (2002)
- Irene Urdangarín y de Borbón (2005)
Having earned a bachelors degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Barcelona, and a Masters in Business Administration from ESADE (also in Barcelona), Iñaki worked for several years as Director of Planning and Development at Motorpress Ibérica. In 2003, he was a founding partner of the Nóos Institute, and served as President until 2006. At that time, he became a director at Telefónica International in Barcelona. Along with his family, he moved to Washington DC in 2009 where he was appointed director and president of the Public Affairs Committee for Telefónica Latin America and United States.
In early 2011, allegations were made against him regarding misappropriation of public funds through his Nóos Institute. He took a leave of absence from his position with Telefónica in Washington, DC, and the family returned to Spain in 2012. After it was discovered that large sums of money were transferred to several foreign accounts, it was announced that he would no longer take part in any official functions of the Spanish royal family. In early 2012, he began testifying before the courts in response to the allegations. He, along with several others, were investigated and were charged with embezzlement, fraud, breach of trust, forgery, and money laundering. His wife, Infanta Cristina, was also charged with tax fraud and money laundering in mid-2014. In June 2015, King Felipe VI of Spain formally stripped his sister, Infanta Cristina, of her title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca. Neither the Infanta, nor her husband are permitted to use the title any further.
The trial began in January 2016 and on February 17, 2017, Infanta Cristina was acquitted of tax fraud and money laundering and her husband Iñaki Urdangarín was found guilty of embezzling about 6 million euros in public funds for sporting events through his nonprofit foundation and of political corruption by using his former title of Duke of Palma de Mallorca as the husband of the Infanta Cristina. Urdangarín was sentenced to six years and three months in prison.
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