Spanish royals' spending set to come under the microscope

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The Independent Online

A former elephant hunter is to train his sights on the Spanish royal family, who are being called to account for the first time about how they spend their cash.

It may mean King Juan Carlos will have to moderate his enthusiasm for expensive yachts, fast cars and the time he spends on exclusive skiing resorts. The Bourbons will have their finances scrutinised by Oscar Moreno Gil, who used to hunt elephants before he became a government lawyer.

The move, opposed by the conservative opposition Popular Party, comes after left-wing and nationalist parties launched a campaign for greater transparency over the royal coffers. The United Left and the Catalan regional nationalist party, Esquerra Republicana Catalana (ERC) have called repeatedly for close inspection of the royal accounts.

ERC brought the matter to Spain's constitutional court in June after the lower house of Parliament, the Congress of Deputies, refused to consider the matter despite the ERC tabling 100 questions in Congress.

The Zarzuela, the Spanish royal household, claimed yesterday that the appointment of an official to watch the royals' spending was "purely a bureaucratic measure and had nothing to do with political pressure".

Spain's royal family is financed by the public purse and in a country where King Juan Carlos enjoys strong support, few questions are asked about how much they get or how it is spent.