Manos Limpias lawyer, Virginia López Negrete. | P. Bota


Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), the so-called union which brought the private prosecution against Princess Cristina as part of the Nóos trial still ongoing in Palma, finds itself at the centre of a National Police extortion investigation.

Specifically, the police fraud squad is looking at allegations that Manos Limpias and Ausbanc, a self-styled association of banking services users, have brought prosecutions only to later then demand vast sums of money to drop them. It is said that precisely this method has been used in respect of Princess Cristina, and that Miguel Bernad, the head of Manos Limpias, and Luis Pineda of Ausbanc had supposedly contacted two major Spanish banks (La Caixa and Banco Sabadell) and offered to drop the accusation against the princess in exchange for the payment of three million euros. Allegedly, half of this was to be paid in advance, with the remaining half being forthcoming once Manos Limpias officially dropped the case. As there is no state prosecution of the princess, an abandonment by Manos Limpias of its prosecution would lead to her immediate absolution.

Virginia López Negrete, the lawyer who has been representing Manos Limpias at the Nóos trial, has strongly denied having involvement in any negotiations with the princess. She said today, though, that if Manos Limpias said to her that she had to drop the case, then she would do so. Nevertheless, she suggested this was all a "smear campaign" because of the possibility that the princess might be found guilty.

Pau Molins, Princess Cristina's advocate in court, said on television today that Manos Limpias had asked for an "exorbitant" amount in exchange for dropping the case. Miguel Roca, who is the princess's main lawyer, is said to have informed the police when he was aware of the offer.

Bernad and Pineda were both arrested today. In all, eleven people have been detained on the instruction of the prosecution service at the national High Court. Bernad and Pineda have been accused of extortion, belonging to a criminal organisation and fraud. Legal sources close to the affair indicate that the investigation was started in February last year.