Jorge Forteza and Pedro Perelló in 2007. Photo by Tōru Shimada.
Urdangarin’s Ex-Business Partner Implicates the King of Negotiating in Favor of his Son-in-Law
Diego Torres remitted three emails with documents to the court
The Duke says, “He has told Cristina that in principle, there won’t be any problems.”
Duke Iñaki Urdangarin affirmed in three 2007 emails that the king acted as a mediator so his son-in-law could participate in a new yachting team for the 33rd America’s Cup. The documents were remitted by Urdangarin’s ex-business partner, Diego Torres, to the Palma court which is investigating the activities of Instituto Nóos. The Ayre Project, which still has not found prosperity after that fiasco of a sporting event, was managed by Pedro Perelló and Jorge Forteza – regattists, businessmen, and friends of the princes and princesses – with the support of the Duke of Palma.
In one of these communications, dated September 30, 2007, Torres asks the duke about his “experience” in seminars about urban planning in Philadelphia and informs him that Perelló has spent “a good while on the telephone every day” to intensify his contacts with the public administrations of the Valencian Community. The following day, Urdangarin answered him form Washington, “I bring a message on behalf of the king, and it is that he has commented to Cristina, so that she could pass the message on to me, that he will get [Francisco] Camps in touch with Pedro in order to tell him about the theme of the base of the Prada. And that in principle, there will not be any problems, and they will help us get it,” said Urdangarin in allusion to the necessary installations in the port of Valencia to hold Project Ayre’s future boat.
In this same email, Urdangarin informed Torres that “there could be a little something for the foundation” and lamented that the entity’s website was not in English. “It would give a more international touch,” the Duke said, and he added that Agustín Zulueta, leader of the Desafío Español (Spanish Challenge) crew – the team that participated in the 2007 America’s Cup – “had asked Cristina to coffee to talk about something that couldn’t be discussed over the phone.” “It was mysterious, but it seemed serious and important,” he averred.
The messages about the ambitious sailing project which Torres’s lawyer, Manuel González Peeters, handed to the judge, piled up on August 9, 2007. Urdangarin then revealed a supposed encounter between King Juan Carlos and Perelló. “We arranged a meeting between the king and Pedro in order to present the project. It went very well, and apart from seeming very well put together, the king has offered all his help in finding financial assistance,” he said to Torres, to whom he added, “Enjoy the cruise.”
Later, on September 10, the husband of Princess Cristina wrote a message to Perelló which again lead with the supposed actions the king had taken to make sure the project arrived safely in harbor. “The king commented to me that one of his friends had done the negotiating we requested with Miguel Fluxa,” in allusion to the owner and president of the Iberostar group, Miguel Fluxá. “From my end, I’ve given [Fluxá] the ear of BBVA so he can give a push to Paco González,” Urdangarin explained to Perelló.
The messages also reveal certain differences over the (failed) presence of a second Spanish team at the America’s Cup. Zulueta affirmed in an October 2007 conversation that he felt “more peaceful” after speaking with “Cristina” and that he believed Perelló “will not continue sending surprising documents to our sponsors.” The tone, despite it all, is conciliatory, and he informed Urdangarin that “the Desafío Español has nothing against another Spanish team taking part, and if course, it has not acquired any right to be the only team.” This relieved “a worry on our end.”
The message sent by another of those implicated in the Nóos case, Antonio Ballabriga, chief of the corporate affairs of BBVA and friend of the Duke, confirms that Urdangarin went forward with his activity in Nóos and his business with public entities. This, despite his formal renunciation in March 2006 and after the king’s emissary, José Manuel Romero Moreno, advised him that spring to disassociate himself with the business. “As we’ve established, we’ll meet at 10 in Nóos to talk about meetings for the European Games project.”
After the 2009 America’s Cup
J.G. reporting from Barcelona and A.M. reporting from Palma
The Mallorcan regattists Pedro Perelló and Jorge Forteza conceived of a project to give Spain a second representative in the 2009 America’s Cup in Valencia. They wanted a team capable of competing to win, and for that they needed to raise at least 100 million euros. Despite their efforts, and despite the Ayre project being enrolled as a challenger by America’s Cup Management (ACM), the project did not prosper.
In 2007, Perelló won the King’s Cup for sailing with a boat named Siemens in which Prince Elena was a navegator. It was then that the regattist and shipowner tried to put together a great team in order to participate in the America’s Cup. Perelló never hid who the project’s godparents were, and he affirmed that the project counted on the active participation of Urdangarin (who was to take charge of the “social and cultural” area of the project) and the blessing of the king, as well. Duke Urdangarin retired after the project. Three years later, one of his businesses dedicated to “sports patronage” (Promorace, FL) was condemned to pay 34,000 euros for abandoning a sailing ship in the installations of the Royal Nautical Club of Palma. The judge obligated the business to “vacate the installations.”
Perelló paired up with a person who could provide more economic muscle for the project, businessman Jorge Forteza, duke of the real estate company Nova. Forteza was tthe “fourth player” that participated in the table tennis game in the palace of Marivent Urdangarin, along with regattist and ex-Director General of Sports Pepote Ballester and ex-President of the Balearic Islands Jaume Matas, who were also imputed in the Nóos case. There, Urdangarin confirmed his patronage of the Illes Balears cycling team. Nóos bought to apartments in Novaen Palma. In addition, Forteza was an intermediary for buying and selling terrain for Mallorca’s territorial program, which was investigated by the attorney general. The BMW Oracle team took the plan for the 33rd America’s Cup to court, where the project was paralyzed more than a year and a half before it was finally cleared.