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Catalan President to testify before parliamentary committee investigating Pujol’s fraud confession

The current President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, will have to testify as a witness before the Catalan Parliament’s committee investigating the alleged fiscal fraud and possible corruption committed by the former Catalan President and CiU’s leader until 2003, Jordi Pujol. Artur Mas is Pujol’s political heir and was the ‘number 2’ in his last cabinet. Pujol, who uninterruptedly chaired the Catalan Executive between 1980 and 2003, confessed last July that his family had kept a fortune in Andorra for the last 34 years without informing tax authorities. The confession shocked Catalan society, since the historical leader of the conservative Catalan nationalists was a crucial figure in the fight against Franco’s dictatorship, the transition to democracy and the recovery of Catalonia’s self-government. Now, Pujol, his wife and 6 of their 7 children are being investigated by the judiciary for alleged fiscal fraud and several corruption scandals. 

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26 January 2015 10:58 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The current President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, will have to testify as a witness before the Catalan Parliament’s committee investigating the alleged fiscal fraud and possible corruption committed by the former Catalan President and CiU’s leader until 2003, Jordi Pujol (aged 84). Artur Mas is Pujol’s political heir: he was the ‘number 2’ in his last cabinet and succeeded him as leader of the CiU. Pujol, who uninterruptedly chaired the Catalan Executive between 1980 and 2003, confessed last July that his family had kept a fortune in Andorra for the last 34 years without informing tax authorities. The confession shocked Catalan society, since Pujol has been the historical leader of the conservative Catalan nationalists and was a crucial figure in the fight against Franco’s dictatorship, the transition to democracy and the first three decades of recovering Catalonia’s self-government. In fact, both Spain’s and Catalonia’s history of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s cannot be understood without him.


Now, Pujol, his wife, and 6 of their 7 children are being investigated by the judiciary for alleged fiscal fraud and several corruption scandals. Such scandals started to appear in the Madrid-based press some two years ago, after Pujol confessed he would support Catalonia’s independence from Spain. In fact, there are many rumours suggesting that the Spanish authorities were protecting Pujol and his family during the last decades as his charismatic leadership was a bulwark against Catalonia’s independence movement, as he was supporting greater self-government for Catalonia but within Spain.

Opposition parties requested Mas’ testimony on four other occasions 

In September, the Catalan Parliament launched a committee to investigate Pujol’s confession and possible corruption cases during his years in government. Almost all the opposition parties were asking for Mas’ testimony, as the current leader of the CiU and President of the Catalan Executive is Pujol’s political heir and occupied important positions in the last governments led by the veteran politician. Mas took over the CiU’s leadership in 2003, when Pujol decided not to run for re-election and retire from frontline politics after chairing the Catalan Executive for 23 consecutive years. Furthermore, the current President was the Catalan Finance Minister between 1997 and 2001 in two of Pujol’s last cabinets. In addition, Mas was the Catalan Government’s ‘number 2’ between 2001 and 2003, being a sort of Vice President. For all these reasons, the opposition parties were asking for Mas’ testimony, to shed some light on public contracts signed during Pujol’s rule and the funding of the CiU.

In the current debate about Catalonia’s independence from Spain, taking into account Mas’ prominent role within the self-determination process and the parliamentary stability agreement they shared with the CiU, the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC were blocking the President’s appearance. They have done so on 4 occasions during the last 4 months. Instead, the ERC was asking Mas to voluntarily speak in front of the regular Institutional Affairs Committee, avoiding the person holding Catalonia’s highest office having to testify as a witness before a special committee created to investigate alleged fraud and corruption cases. However, Mas has not asked for such a voluntarily appearance so far and the ERC has decided not to wait any longer, now that Mas has already announced that early elections will be held on 27 September as a plebiscite to decide on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.

On Monday, the ERC joined the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the conservative and Spanish nationalist People’s Party (PP), the Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition (ICV-EUiA), the populist anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) and the alternative-left and radical independence party CUP in voting for Mas’ testimony. Only the CiU did not join the majority and they abstained. The ERC’s votes were therefore essential to change the balance and make the Catalan President testify. The CiU accused the ERC of using Mas’ testimony as an attempt to erode the Catalan President’s image before the electoral campaign. “Our group always argued that the President had to testify, but the most suitable place was the Institutional Affairs Committee”, emphasised the ERC. Since Mas was not asking for it, “if we have to choose between testifying or not testifying”, the ERC chooses to have Mas answer MPs’ questions, they added. The rest of the opposition parties criticised the ERC for having impeded Mas’ testimony in the last few months and for having changed their mind about it now.

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  • MPs voting on Artur Mas' testimony before the parliamentary committee on Jordi Pujol's fiscal fraud confession (by ACN)

  • MPs voting on Artur Mas' testimony before the parliamentary committee on Jordi Pujol's fiscal fraud confession (by ACN)