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Spain’s ex-king Juan Carlos, under investigation for corruption, says he is leaving the country

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
FILE: Spain's former monarch King Juan Carlos waves upon his arrival to the Academia Diplomatica de Chile, in Santiago.
FILE: Spain's former monarch King Juan Carlos waves upon his arrival to the Academia Diplomatica de Chile, in Santiago.   -   Copyright  Esteban Felix/AP Photo

Spain's former King Juan Carlos, under investigation for corruption, has said he is quitting the country in a letter to his son, King Felipe VI.

Newspaper reports claimed Carlos, 82, received millions of euros from Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah, some of which he then allegedly transferred to a bank account under his former mistress's name.

"Guided by the conviction of wanting the best for the Spanish, their institutions and you as King, I am informing you of my considered decision to move, at this time, outside of Spain," he said in a letter posted to the Spanish royal family's website.

He said he wanted to ensure he doesn't make his son's role difficult, adding that "my legacy, and my own dignity, demand that it should be so."

It is unclear when he will leave Spain or where he will go.

His lawyer, Javier Sanchez-Junco, said in a statement that Juan Carlos would remain available to prosecutors and that his exile was not a way for him to escape from justice.

The 82-year-old abdicated the throne in 2014 amid a series of scandals. His son King Felipe VI succeeded him and has recently been under pressure to address the corruption allegations.

Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, recently said he found developments related to the scandals "disturbing".

Felipe has renounced his personal inheritance from his father and cancelled Juan Carlos' annual stipend after media reports claimed he was a beneficiary to an offshore account holding an alleged 65 million from Saudi Arabia to Juan Carlos.

Felipe has also denied having any knowledge of his father's alleged financial irregularities.

A statement on the royal family's website said that "His Majesty the King has transmitted to H.M. the King Don Juan Carlos his heartfelt respect and gratitude for his decision."

"The King wishes to emphasise the historical importance that his father's reign represents, as a legacy and political and institutional work of service to Spain and democracy," the statement continued.

The former King has been credited with helping to restore democracy after the death of Francisco Franco in 1975.