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Spain's former king Juan Carlos in exile in Abu Dhabi: Report

Latest twist in whereabouts of the ex-monarch who abruptly left Spain on Monday amid a cloud of scandal
Spain's king Juan Carlos with his son and wife
Spain's former king Juan Carlos, left, seen here in 2014 with his wife Queen Sofia, right, and his son King Felipe, centre, abruptly left the country on Monday (FILE/AFP)

Spain's former king, Juan Carlos, has been staying at Abu Dhabi's exclusive Emirates Palace Hotel since leaving Spain aboard a private jet on Monday in the wake of growing corruption allegations, a Spanish national daily reported on Friday.

According to ABC newspaper, a private plane en route from Paris to Abu Dhabi stopped off in the northwestern Spanish city of Vigo on Monday morning to pick up Juan Carlos, four security guards and one other person.

Upon arrival at Abu Dhabi's Al Bateen airport, the king and his entourage were flown by helicopter to the government-owned Hotel Emirates Palace, ABC said.

A palace spokesman said he did not know where Juan Carlos was. The former king's lawyer did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Dogged by mounting corruption allegations, Juan Carlos abruptly announced his decision to leave Spain on Monday, but there has been no official confirmation of his whereabouts, setting off an international guessing game.

Some media have speculated Juan Carlos is in a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, and others place him in Portugal, where he spent much of his youth. But officials in both countries have said they have no knowledge of him arriving.

Others have expressed doubts over ABC's reporting, with one independent analyst questioning the accuracy of plane details released by the newspaper. 

Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and was widely respected for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy, but recent scandals have tarnished his image.

In June, Spain’s Supreme Court opened a preliminary probe into Juan Carlos’ involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia, after Switzerland’s La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported he had received $100m from the late Saudi king over a multi-billion-dollar high-speed rail contract. Switzerland has also opened a probe.

A steady drip feed of leaks followed, with Spain’s El Confidencial news site publishing documents that appeared to show regular cash withdrawals of hundreds of thousands of euros from a Swiss account signed by Juan Carlos.

The former monarch is not formally under investigation and through his lawyer has repeatedly declined to comment on the allegations. 

His lawyer, the royal palace and the government have all declined to say where he is.

United Arab Emirates officials were not immediately available for comment. The Emirates Palace Hotel did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment, Reuters said.  

Juan Carlos had said he was leaving Spain so that his son’s reign would not be troubled by his personal affairs.