The Spanish Court of Accounts threatens the embargo on 39 former high independence officials and opens a new controversy in the Catalan conflict

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The Spanish Court of Accounts claims 5,417,899 euros from 39 former senior officials and officials of the Catalan Government for allegedly undue expenses made for the international promotion of the independence process that took place in Catalonia and that culminated in the holding of the referendum of illegal self-determination on October 1, 2017.

The highest amounts are claimed from Artur Mas, President of the Generalitat between 2010 and 2016, with 2,803,115 euros; to Carles Puigdemont, president between 2016 and 2017, with 1,981,453 euros; already Oriol Junqueras, vice president between 2016 and 2017, with 1,932,323 euros. Puigdemont has been in Belgium for almost four years to evade the actions of the Spanish Justice, while Junqueras was sentenced to prison and was pardoned by the Government last week, along with eight other pro-independence leaders.

The money claimed by the Court of Accounts would have been used to disseminate the Catalan secessionist project between 2011 and 2017, that is, according to the institution, it would have been used to promote the performance of an illegal act.

The responsibility of all the persons indicated in the provisional liquidation act is solidarity, which means that the same concept of undue spending is attributed to several senior positions or officials who had responsibility for it. Thus, the reimbursement of the full amount can be demanded from any of them, who could later demand from the others the part that corresponds to them.

The total sum claimed, 5.4 million euros, is the result of the accounting responsibility for the different administrative actions that would have led to the diversion of funds and which the leaders of the ‘procés’ must face in solidarity and proportional to their degree of participation. If they do not face it, either by depositing the money or a guarantee, the seizure of goods of those responsible until the total is covered.

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Once the provisional liquidation is communicated to the interested parties, and after the conclusion of the allegations procedure, in the next phase of the procedure the State Prosecutor’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office must formulate the corresponding civil claim.

31 chapters of irregular activities

The minutes of the Court of Accounts consist of 31 chapters in which the activities that are considered illegal are listed.

274,069 euros spent on travels made by the presidents of the Catalan Government, as well as 293,069 euros used in the work of the Catalan delegation in the United Kingdom related to the independence project.

The activities of the Catalan embassies: 148,538 euros spent in the US delegation, 136,829 in Austria, 95,747 in Italy, 67,727 in the European Union, 57,416 euros in France, and 29,456 in Poland.

In addition, slightly more than a million and a half euros improperly spent on international visits and activities of Diplocated, a public-private consortium in charge of the foreign promotion of Catalonia; as well as 1.4 million euros in contracts awarded for the same purpose.

“Stone in the way”

This investigation was prompted by the State Bar, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Catalan Civil Society and Catalan Lawyers by the Constitution. The procedure began when Mariano Rajoy was still in charge of the Government of Spain, before being evicted from office through a motion of censure that the Presidency gave Pedro Sánchez.

Those investigated have been very critical of the minutes of the Court of Auditors because they allege that it includes as an undue expense any trip abroad in which you participate in a colloquium or conference or hold a meeting with politicians.

Last week, the Minister of Transport of Spain and secretary of organization of the Socialist Party (PSOE), José Luis Ábalos, referred to this case promoted in the Court of Accounts as “a stone in the way” of a relationship between the Government of Spain and of Catalonia that it is trying to channel in recent months.

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It is precisely within this framework that the pardons to the nine independence leaders convicted for their participation in the organization of the illegal referendum of 2017, which Sánchez justified for reasons of public utility and the need to build bridges between Catalan society and the rest of Spanish society, as well as normalize relations and channel the problem of new to the political arena.

In this scenario, there is interest in knowing what the position of the State BarAlthough this Monday Sánchez ruled out giving him instructions of any kind to change his criteria.

The Court of Accounts

Despite its name, the Court of Accounts is an administrative and not a judicial body and its decisions can be appealed before the courts.

Its about supreme body for the oversight of public accounts from Spain. Although it is an autonomous entity, is not independent of political power, since its 12 councilors are appointed by the Congress of Deputies and by the Senate (six each) by a three-fifths majority.

For almost two decades this body has been governed by people related to the opposition Popular Party (PP). In fact, its renewal must be carried out every nine years, but the large majority required has facilitated that this renewal has been blocked when the Socialist Party has been in power and only carried out when the PP has governed, that is, when it had most.

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Of the 12 members of the Tribunal, only one, María Dolores Genaro, has issued a particular vote to the act known this Tuesday, in which he denounces various irregularities. It maintains that the report was put to a vote without the members of the Plenary having access to the final version and without meeting the legal deadlines, with “incomprehensible urgency.”

This Court already sentenced Artur Mas in 2019 to the reimbursement of 4,988,620 euros, together with Francesc Homs, Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau, members of his Government, for organizing a non-binding consultation on independence on November 9, 2014 The sentence is being appealed before the Supreme Court.

The work of this body, made up of people who they are not jurists and that it has sanctioning capacity, it has been highly criticized. Not only because of its composition, to which many attribute an ideological bias, pointing out that it has not detected any irregularity related to the PP despite the multiple cases opened in the courts, but because of the fact that it can impose sanctions without a trial and the accused are convicted.

This happened in the case of Mas, pending appeal, which he financially sanctioned for diverting funds, although the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia had not convicted the accused of prevarication or embezzlement.

From the pro-independence sphere there have been harsh criticisms of this report from the Court of Auditors. The former vice president of the Generalitat, Oriol Junqueras, said: “Once again the repression is attacking us and our families. We will never give up the fight for amnesty!”

Nuria Lopez

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