Court of Auditors to investigate Catalan diplomatic activity after ‘signs of irregularities’
Prosecutors looked into use of public funds to promote independence bid abroad from 2011 to 2017
Spain’s Court of Auditors will investigate the Catalan government for its diplomatic activities after finding "signs of irregularities" over the use of public funds to promote the independence bid abroad.
The investigation spans from 2011 to 2017—the time period during which Catalonia’s push to separate from Spain became mainstream, leading to a referendum held despite Madrid’s opposition, and a declaration of independence ruled as illegal.
Following a request from the Spanish parliament, the public prosecutor focused its initial investigation on the work of Catalan government offices abroad and the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat), as well as trips abroad and reports requested from experts and organizations.
A spokesperson for the Catalan foreign affairs ministry assured that the auditors would find “neither irregularity nor illegality” in its activities. He added that denying Catalonia the ability to organize and participate in international debates about politics “violates fundamental rights”.
The auditors have previously found 10 Catalan politicians, including former Catalan president Artur Mas, guilty of similar charges related to the informal referendum held in November 2014, and returned five million euros to the public purse, although they were never convicted.
The court currently already has an investigation open into the possible misuse of public funds by the Catalan government in organizing the October 2017 referendum, focusing on exiled president Carles Puigdemont, as well as 18 other former senior government officials.