Court of Auditors summons independence leaders over foreign policy expenditure

Former presidents Mas and Puigdemont, along with jailed politicians and former officials between 2011 and 2017, to be questioned

Former vice president Oriol Junqueras and ex presidents Carles Puigdemont and Artur Mas in 2016 (by Patricia Mateos)
Former vice president Oriol Junqueras and ex presidents Carles Puigdemont and Artur Mas in 2016 (by Patricia Mateos) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 23, 2021 03:29 PM

Spain's Court of Auditors has summoned the main Catalan government figures from between 2011 and 2017 over foreign policy expenditure possibly linked to the independence push.

On Friday, the judicial institution announced that up to forty politicians will have to appear on June 29 and 30 due to lawsuits put forward by the public prosecutor, the solicitor general, and two unionist civil society groups: Advocats Catalans per la Constitució (Catalan Lawyers for the Constitution) and Societat Civil Catalana (Catalan civil society). They have accused the officials of misuse of public funds.

Amongst those subpoenaed are former presidents Artur Mas (2010-2016) and Carles Puigdemont (2016-2017), along with the jailed former vice president, Oriol Junqueras, and the also imprisoned former foreign minister, Raül Romeva.

Government ministers during the 2010s but prior to the 2017 referendum were also summoned, including former spokespersons Francesc Homs and Neus Munté as well as former economy minister Andreu Mas-Colell.

It is expected that on June 29 and 30 an amount will be set for each of them to pay off. 

The court is especially looking into those officials who held posts related to the Catalan foreign action over the decade, including the former secretary generals Roger Albinyana, Amadeu Altafaj, Lluís Bertran, Albert Carreras de Odriozola, David Mascort, Joaquim Nin, Jordi Vilajoana, Aleix Villatoro and Pau Villoria.

Also, the former Catalan administration comptroller generals at the time Maria Vidal and Rosa Vidal, the former Diplocat council Albert Royo, and the former heads of 12 government offices abroad. 

31 officials to face trial on referendum-related expenses

In a separate but related case, the Court of Auditors requested in January 2020 a €4.1m bail for 31 officials during the 2017 independence push, including former president Carles Puigdemont, the other exiled leaders, the nine jailed leaders and a number of other high-ranking officials still awaiting trial.

Donations from pro-independence supporters paid off that money, and the Court of Auditors continues its investigation into their civil liability after the Supreme Court sentencing on the convicted leaders only specified that €2.02m of public money were misused.

All 31 officials expect a trial that might end up with them being required to pay the amounts already deposited on bail – they will be able to appeal in the Court of Auditors, and also lodge a final appeal before the Supreme Court.