Barcelona court reopens investigation into mayor's alleged irregular awarding of subsidies

Ada Colau accused of favoring social rights groups

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau while talking to media outlets on November 4, 2022 in the city hall
Barcelona mayor Ada Colau while talking to media outlets on November 4, 2022 in the city hall / Blanca Blay
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

November 4, 2022 09:50 AM

November 4, 2022 04:44 PM

The Barcelona provincial court has reopened its investigation into mayor Ada Colau's alleged irregular awarding of subsidies.

Although the case against her was shelved in June, this decision was appealed by the Transparency and Democratic Quality Association. While the public prosecutor opposed the appeal, judges announced on Friday that they were siding with the association. 

The jury decided to shelve her case as Colau had delegated her decisions such as awarding of subsidies to other local authorities, and there was no proof that she was making any indications to those officials on the matter.

During the first investigation, the local auditor had already announced that the system had some irregularities well before the current mayor was elected, something she did not expect to have any criminal importance.

However, Barcelona provincial court believes there are some penal crimes, especially perverting the course of justice when awarding subsidies to specific organizations without any public tender and without any justification.

Some of these subsidies were awarded "repetitively, and directly assigned," the court believes, and over 70% of them were used to pay salaries and not a subvention to an entity.

Colau denies wrongdoing

The Barcelona mayor has long defended her innocence and even considered the reopening of the investigation as political will "to make some noise," from the Transparency and Democratic Quality Association.

Colau, on Friday morning, requested to know who is behind this "shadow organization," before announcing that the city council will hand out all documents if requested by the court. "Who finances these repeated judicial cases that last so long? This all has an economic cost," she added.

"It's about time we found out who is behind this shadowy organization," mayor Ada Colau said on Friday

In fact, the case has been shelved twice by the prosecutor's office and a judge after "extended" investigations and even asking Colau to declare.

The leader considered that the organization has been "artificially extending a complaint that did not have any reason to exist," and believes that this is a way of "abusing" and making "a malpractice" of the courts.

Back in Summer, after the court announced it would not be moving forward with the case, Colau already wondered who was behind "this shadow organization? And what was their goal? To make noise, generate headlines, and make it seem like all politicians are the same and are corrupt when this is not true," she said.

At the time, the mayor suggested that "great economic powers" such as the water utility company were to blame for "stigmatizing" social rights groups and the council. 

For Ada Colau's lawyer, Àlex Solà, the case will not go further as all information will be clarified and it will not reach a trial, he said on Friday.

Corruption allegations

The anti-austerity Barcelona En Comú politician has been accused of favoring social rights groups such as the PAH anti-eviction platform or Engineers without Borders from 2020 to 2021.  

The initial complaint against Colau was filed by the Transparency and Democratic Quality Association, which argues she is guilty of perverting the course of justice, embezzlement of public funds, and influence peddling.