Catalan public finance institute pays guarantee of leaders accused of illicit foreign action
Public body put up money for former officials involved in Spain’s Court of Auditors case over promoting independence
The Catalan public finance institute (ICF, its acronym in Catalonia), has put up a €5.4 million euro guarantee for the former government officials accused of illicit foreign action from 2011 to 2017.
The public body acted on Thursday as a guarantor for the 34 ex-officials who face a potential Spanish Court of Auditors fine.
Who faces the largest fines?
Former Catalan president Artur Mas and former finance minister Andreu Mas-Colell face a €2.8m claim for the public funds allegedly spent from 2011 to 2016 on trips and government offices abroad.
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and former vice president Oriol Junqueras must pay €1.98m for their tenure between 2016 and 2017, when Catalonia held a referendum deemed illegal and subsequently declared independence.
In all, some 34 former officials are under investigation, including some of the politicians who spent more than three years in prison for their role during the referendum bid and who were pardoned by the Spanish government, such as former vice president Oriol Junqueras.
The Court of Auditors has scrutinized the public funds spent by Diplocat, a semipublic consortium aimed at fostering Catalonia's interests abroad, and which encompasses the Catalan government, local and regional authorities, trade unions, universities, and even FC Barcelona.
The former Diplocat secretary-general, Albert Royo, faces a €3.63 million claim from the Court of Auditors, more than any other defendant.
The second-largest fine (€3.16m) goes to Mireia Vidal, who served as the auditor general of the Catalan government from 2011 to 2016, and was tasked with monitoring public spending.
The court also wants former Catalan officials to repay large sums allegedly spent on the network of government offices abroad, with hundreds of thousands of euros linked to the so-called delegations in France, the United States, Italy, and the United Kingdom, among others.
Both Diplocat and most government offices abroad were shut down by Spanish authorities in the fall of 2017, being deemed propaganda tools. They reopened in 2018 when pro-independence parties regained control of the Catalan government.
Other politicians that are being requested to pay large sums of money include former presidency minister Francesc Homs, fined €2.9 millions, and former foreign action minister Raül Romeva, who is being held accountable for €2.1 millions worth of public money.