Sunday, June 13

The Court of Auditors denounces up to 45 trips abroad in favor of the ‘procés’ | Spain


Carles Puigdemont greets former president Artur Mas in a ceremony in 2017.
Carles Puigdemont greets former president Artur Mas in a ceremony in 2017.Quique García / EFE

The Court of Auditors has identified a total of 45 trips by the former presidents of the Generalitat Artur Mas and Carles Puigdemont, or by members of their respective governments, to foreign countries, in order to promote the secessionist process and demand a referendum to lead to the independence of Catalonia. This is stated in the audit report prepared to determine the amount of funds allegedly embezzled abroad. The 40 public officials and officials investigated in this file are asked for a bond of 4.8 million euros.

The audit report of the Generalitat’s accounts on foreign action consists of 722 pages, throughout which the case instructors expose how much information they have been able to gather on the public funds allegedly diverted by the Catalan administration between 2011 and 2017 for an activity, foreign policy, over which they had no competences. The thesis of the opinion is that the Generalitat used an amount not less than 4.8 million euros for these illicit purposes, although the final figure has been left open in the accounting responsibility file, as a result of the course that the procedure follows.

When analyzing the expenses made to promote the process and its purposes, the report highlights the importance and frequency of the trips of former presidents and former councilors of the Generalitat, as well as the intense activity carried out by the Catalan Government delegations abroad, especially in European countries and the United States. “This Court of Auditors has confirmed – underlines the text – the existence of international trips (…) linked to the promotion of the so-called sovereign process in the international arena.”

The report states that this purpose is beyond those provided for in the Generalitat’s Foreign Action Law itself, “therefore the use of public funds is not justified.” It is added that “for this purpose, 45 trips have been made with a total cost of 479,633 euros (…) that were intended in most cases to teach or participate in conferences or meetings whose purpose was to promote and publicize the sovereign process with the intention of obtaining international support and recognition ”.

The Court of Auditors considers that this activity involved not only the diversion of public funds, but also “the violation of the principle of mutual institutional loyalty provided for in article 3” of the aforementioned Catalan Foreign Action Law. In support of these theses, numerous internal documents of the Generalitat are cited, such as those relating to budgets for actions in the international sphere. One of them established, for example, when setting the forecasts for 2016 and 2017, that “the current legislature aims to lay the foundations that make the declaration of independence of Catalonia possible, based on the creation of State structures and the promotion of a process of national and popular disconnection with the Spanish State ”. And it was added that “for this country objective to be possible, it is necessary to strengthen Catalonia’s external projection and achieve its recognition.”

Incomplete documentation

These were the purposes that, in general, guided the actions of the Generalitat between 2011 and 2017, the period under investigation. The report admits that it has not been possible to shed light on all the investigated actions, in part because the documentation provided by the Generalitat has been incomplete and fragmentary in various chapters. The report describes in this sense administrative hiring practices that could be irregular.

In the phase of the file that is beginning now, the defenses will discuss the conclusions of the Court of Auditors, both in general terms and in terms of the responsibility that corresponds to each of the investigated. Apart from the former presidents Mas and Puigdemont, among them are the former vice president of the Generalitat, Oriol Junqueras, and six former councilors, among other positions and officials. The joint bail required now is 4.8 million, but the economic translation of the responsibility of each of those investigated will depend on the final conclusions of the court.


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