Former Catalan President Jordi Pujol, his wife and 3 of their children testify before judge for fiscal fraud
After confessing that his family had kept a fortune in Andorra without informing tax authorities for 34 years, the President of the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003 and founder of the centre-right Catalan nationalist coalition CiU, Jordi Pujol, his wife Marta Ferrussola and 3 of their 7 children (Marta, Mireia and Pere) testified before the judge investigating the case. They are indicted for alleged fiscal fraud and money laundering. During more than 2 hours, Pujol (aged 84) answered the judge’s and the anti-corruption public prosecutor’s questions. He insisted that his father had left a hand-written letter with instructions about 140 million pesetas secretly left in Andorra in 1980 for his wife and children, but not him, coming from his “illegal” activities selling currencies during the dictatorship. However, the defence has not yet presented any supporting documents. Besides this, 3 of Pujol’s other sons are indicted for other fiscal fraud and corruption cases.
Barcelona (ACN).- After confessing that his family had kept some €4 million in Andorra without informing tax authorities for 34 years resulting from his father’s legacy, the President of the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003 and founder of the centre-right Catalan nationalist coalition CiU in the 1970s, Jordi Pujol, his wife Marta Ferrussola and 3 of their 7 children (Marta, Mireia and Pere) testified before the Barcelona-based judge investigating the case. They are formally indicted for alleged fiscal fraud and money laundering. During more than 2 hours, Pujol answered the questions from the judge and the Madrid-based public prosecutor specialised in corruption cases. The veteran politician, aged 84, insisted that his father had left a hand-written letter with instructions about 140 million pesetas secretly left in Andorra in 1980 for his wife and children, but not for him, due to the risk of retaliation for his political activities in the years after Franco’s death. The money came from his father’s “illegal” activities selling currencies during the dictatorship, which was a reason to keep the money a secret. His wife refused to answer any of the judge’s or the prosecutor’s questions and their children confirmed Pujol’s version. The defence is emphasising that all the money kept in Andorra has been regularised this summer with the Spanish Tax Agency.
The leader of the conservative Catalan nationalists between the 1970s and early 2000s gave further details of the story he had partially told in his July confession and in the explanations he gave before the Catalan Parliament at the end of September. However, the defence has not yet presented any factual evidence or documents supporting their arguments. The judge is particularly focusing the investigation on proving the origin of the Andorran money, since the amount is much greater than the official inheritance. The criminal complaints filed by an extreme-right trade union and several alternative-left political parties against Pujol and his family suspect that the money could come from public contracts of the Catalan Government or funds from the private bank managed by Pujol before he was President, Banca Catalana.
A case that has shocked Catalan society and which has great political implications
This case has shocked Catalan society, since the veteran politician was a widely respected figure, regardless of ideology, until his confession last July. Besides this, in the last 2 years, many press news and rumours have also linked several sons of Pujol to non-transparent businesses or even illegal activities, profiting from their political contacts and the years their father and the CiU have run the Catalan Government. In fact, 3 of Pujol’s other sons are indicted for fiscal fraud, corruption and influence peddling in several cases (besides their grandfather’s inheritance in Andorra), which are currently under judicial investigation.
In the current political atmosphere, with so many corruption cases appearing throughout Spain and throughout Catalonia during the last few years and in the middle of the independence debate, the scandals involving Pujol and his family have had a great impact on citizens. Furthermore, the Spanish Government and Spanish nationalists have been using Pujol’s confession and the several judicial investigations launched against 6 of his 7 children to attack Catalonia’s self-determination process, linking corruption to support for independence. However, for almost his entire career, Pujol did not support independence and was defending greater self-rule for Catalonia but within a more modern and decentralised Spain. In fact, there have also been rumours suggesting that the Spanish authorities knew about some irregular activities linked to Pujol and his family and decided to look away since he was keeping pro-independence support low during the 1980s and 1990s with his charismatic leadership and, with his parliamentary votes, he was supporting Spanish governments and their main reforms. However, some 2 years ago, for the first time, Pujol stated that he was supporting independence.
Protesters welcome Pujol with insults
On Tuesday morning, the person who headed the Catalan Government for 23 consecutive years and who was crucial in the fight against Franco, Spain’s transition to democracy and the restitution and development of Catalonia’s self-government institutions went to the Barcelona and L’Hospitalet Courts to testify with his lawyer for fiscal fraud and money laundering charges. Jordi Pujol (aged 84) went there with his wife, Marta Ferrusola, who is also indicted for the same charges, as well as 3 of their 7 children, who had also to testify on the same day. Pujol and Ferrussola arrived before around 9.30 am and they were welcomed with insults and banners by a small group of protesters. Their two daughters and one son arrived without being reported by the press. At 12.45, Pujol and his wife left the court building, being escorted by anti-riot police and surrounded by a much greater number of protesters and many reporters.
Jordi Pujol spoke for more than 2 hours and answered the judge’s and prosecutor’s questions. His wife was interrogated when he finished and refused to answer any questions. Pujol insisted that his father, Florenci Pujol, had left a letter with instructions about what should be done with 140 million pesetas (equivalent to about €840,000) that he had secretly left in Andorra before he died in 1980. Florenci Pujol was giving the money to his son’s wife and children, in case his son’s political career brought the family financial problems during the tumultuous years after Franco’s death. Jordi Pujol said that the origin of this money was from his father’s “illegal” activities selling foreign currencies during Franco’s dictatorship, mostly US dollars in Morocco, a reason to keep it a secret, as he feared it could harm his political career, he added. Pujol insisted that the money was not meant for him and that he refused to know details about its future management.
The money in Andorra was originally managed by Delfí Mateu
The money was managed by a trusted person of Pujol and his father, Delfí Mateu, he disclosed today. There have been rumours about whether the father of the current Catalan President, Artur Mas, could have been this person, a suggestion totally denied by Mas. Delfí Mateu died in 1993 and was a former director in Banca Catalana, the private bank founded by Florenci Pujol in the late 1950s in which Jordi Pujol worked as Executive Vice President until the mid-1970s. Banca Catalana went bankrupt and the case resulted in a great political scandal, investigated in the early 1980s, in which Pujol went through a trial (already being Catalan President), but was ultimately let free.
Florenci Pujol had stated that when all of his grandchildren were adults, they would take care of the money. This happened in 1992 and Jordi Pujol’s oldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrussola, started to manage the money in Andorra. A few amounts of money were added to the original amount on several occasions during the following years, stated Pujol. However, he stressed that no money came from public funds or Banca Catalana. With time and investments made with this money following the advice of Andorran fiscal experts, the fortune amounted to 540 million pesetas in 2010 (€3.25 million), according to Pujol.
However, the defence has not presented the letter, nor any other document proving the money’s origin. The only documents presented were Florenci Pujol’s last will, in which the secret money kept in Andorra was not mentioned, and Jordi Pujol’s acceptance of his legitimate share of the inheritance, in which the secret money also was not mentioned. Pujol officially inherited from his father a 3 million peseta house in Premià de Mar (Greater Barcelona) and shares in Banca Catalana and in a company called Cedat, worth 13.2 million.
In addition, a detailed report of bank account movements has not been presented. Nonetheless, the defence has presented two certificates from two Andorran banks (Adbank and Banca Privada d'Andorra) in which they state that between 2002 and 2010, no further funds were added to the bank accounts, aside from the revenue coming from financial investments made with the account’s funds.