Catalonia's Supreme Court now indicts CiU MP Oriol Pujol for bribery
The former Secretary General and 'number 2' of CDC, which is the Liberal Party and larger force within the two-party Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), has been indicted for another alleged offence: bribery. Oriol Pujol had already been indicted a year ago for influence peddling regarding the network of Technical Vehicle Inspection garages (ITV). Back then, Pujol temporarily stepped down from his party responsibilities and as Chairman of the CiU group within the Catalan Parliament, but he continued as MP. The case is still under investigation by a judge from Catalonia's Supreme Court (TSJC), who has now added bribery to the list of alleged felonies. The judge stated that he believes Pujol might have earned €30,000 through his wife's company for a specific vote in Parliament. The CDC and the Spokesperson of the Catalan Government – run by the CiU – emphasised that they believe in Pujol's innocence and hope the judicial process will clarify the situation as soon as possible.
Barcelona (ACN).- The former Secretary General and 'number 2' of Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC), which is the Liberal party and larger force within the two-party Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), has been indicted for another alleged felony: bribery. The CiU is running the Catalan Government since December 2010 and Oriol Pujol has been one of the coalition's strong men for the last decade. Furthermore he is one of the sons of Jordi Pujol, who is the historical leader of conservative Catalan nationalists and was Catalan President between 1980 and 2003. In March 2013, Oriol Pujol had already been indicted in a case of influence peddling regarding the network of Technical Vehicle Inspection garages (ITV). The case is still under investigation by a judge, who is from Catalonia's Supreme Court (TSJC) on account of the fact that Pujol is a Member of the Catalan Parliament and used to be the Chairman of the CiU group. Now, the same judge is indicting Pujol, his wife Anna Vidal, and two businessmen, Ricard Puignou and Sergi Alsina, for another felony related to the same case. The judge stated on Wednesday that there are "rational suggestions" giving grounds for believing that Pujol might have earned €30,000 through his wife's company for voting for some amendments of the Industrial Safety Law in 2008. Both the CDC and the Spokesperson of the Catalan Government – run by the CiU – emphasised that they believe in Pujol's innocence and hope the judicial process will clarify the situation as soon as possible. Oriol Pujol has always insisted he is innocent.
The TSJC judge Enric Anglada is basing Pujol's indictment on reports from the Public Prosecution Office and the Spanish Tax Agency, both bodies run by the Spanish Government. The judge stated that there are "rational suggestions" giving grounds for thinking that Oriol Pujol might have earned 30,000 euros through a company owned by his wife, Anna Vidal, who has also been indicted. The money is alleged to have been paid by Sergi Alsina, who is a close friend of Pujol from his youth and was involved in a company doing ITV inspections. Alsina might have received the money from businessman Ricard Puignou, who was running a company called Certio and wanted to obtain ITV licenses. The judge will now investigate whether Oriol Pujol received such money in exchange for voting for a few specific amendments to the Catalan Industrial Safety Law (which legislates on ITV inspections) in 2008.
CDC believes in Pujol's innocence
The CDC issued a press statement on Wednesday evening in which it insists on Oriol Pujol's innocence. He used to be the party's 'number 2', being CDC's Secretary General, the second most important party office after the Chairman, who is Artur Mas, President of the Catalan Government. When Pujol was indicted, he stepped down from his party positions, temporarily delegating them to two people: Lluís Corominas and Josep Rull. Pujol also stepped down as Chairman of the CiU group in the Catalan Parliament.
The CDC emphasised their belief that Pujol is not and has not been a member of any corruption network. They insisted that he "never asked for and even less received" any money or favour in exchange for any vote regarding the 2008 Industrial Safety Law. Furthermore, the CDC pointed out that CiU's votes were not necessary to the approval of such amendments since the three left-wing parties that were running the Catalan Government back then held an absolute majority in the Catalan Parliament. Finally, the CDC is hoping that the judicial investigation will go "with the maximum speed" in order "to provide all the necessary explanations that will show that he has always acted strictly respecting the legal framework".
The ITV case
The current investigation derives from the case known as ‘Campeón’, which is centred in Galicia. The Catalan branch of the case appeared in the press in 2012 when five notorious people were arrested, two politicians and three businessmen: the ‘Number 2’ of Barcelona’s Provincial Council, Josep Tous; the Catalan Government’s Deputy Director of Industrial Safety, Isidre Masalles; the former General Director of Menta ITV, Ricard Puignou; the former CEO of Applus, Sergi Pastor; and Sergi Alsina, a partner in Alta Partners.
According to the indictment document issued in March 2013, Oriol Pujol allegedly used his political influence and contacts to have Tous and Masalles appointed in key public positions deciding on the allocation of ITV licenses. The TSJ believes that Tous could also have been working for Alsina and Puignou at the time. In addition, the court stated that it suspected Pujol of having pushed for the approval of a new territorial plan for ITV garages, favouring the private interests of Alsina and Puignou.