Former Catalan President Jordi Pujol insists on previous statements on fiscal fraud in parliamentary hearing
Before the Catalan Parliament's commission investigating fraud and corruption, former President of the Catalan Government Jordi Pujol has testified in order to address his family's alleged fiscal fraud. Pujol was asked to talk before the parliamentary committee despite having been indicted by the judge and having already testified in front of her in January. Pujol, who ran the Executive between 1980 and 2003, did not add any new information and refused to answer many questions, referring to his previous statement before the judge and the previous hearing before the Catalan Parliament in September. He criticised the current parliamentary commission for not sufficiently proving their accusations., Pujol's wife, Marta Ferrusola, who is also indicted and who has previously testified before the judge, also spoke before the parliamentary commission. Ferrusola did not answer many questions but stressed that she "never" travelled to Andorra to manage funds.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Monday, before the Catalan Parliament's commission investigating fraud and corruption, former President of the Catalan Government Jordi Pujol testified in order to address potential irregular activities during his years in government and the confession he made last July about his family's alleged fiscal fraud. Pujol was asked to talk before the parliamentary committee despite having been indicted by the judge and having already testified in front of her in January, thereby doing so during an ongoing judicial process. Pujol, who ran the Catalan Executive for 23 consecutive years between 1980 and 2003, did not add any new information and refused to answer many questions, referring to his previous statement before the judge and the previous hearing before the Catalan Parliament in September. He stressed that his family's money did not come from irregular public funds or any form of corruption, and criticised the current parliamentary commission for not sufficiently proving their accusations. He also apologised for the "tension" during his last parliamentary hearing, when he was made visibly angry by some questions posed by MPs.
Pujol's wife, Marta Ferrusola, who is also indicted and who has previously testified before the judge, also spoke before the parliamentary commission. Ferrusola did answer some questions, despite it having been said during the morning that she would not be giving any answers in her afternoon hearing. She stressed that she "never" travelled to Andorra to manage funds and said her sons and daughters "do not have a penny". Later on, Pujol's eldest son, who is indicted in many judicial cases, also testified and offered detailed explanations about his business activities, denying any involvement with Catalonia's public sector.
A hearing caused by Pujol's confession in July
Former Catalan President Jordi Pujol, aged 84, has once again testified before a parliamentary committee to speak about his fiscal fraud confession but also to answer questions about alleged corruption cases involving his family. He already did so in late September, after he shocked Catalan society on the 25th of July when he issued a press release confessing that his family had been keeping a fortune in the fiscal haven of Andorra since 1980 without informing the Spanish tax authorities.
This confession shocked Catalan society, since Jordi Pujol had been the historic leader of conservative Catalan nationalism since the 1970s up until 2003. Furthermore, he had been an essential person in the fight against Franco, the return to democracy, the development of Catalonia's self-rule and the normalisation of Catalan language and culture after decades of political repression. Pujol was also an essential figure in rallying support for many Spanish governments in the 1990s, a crucial factor in Spain's accession to the Eurozone.
Artur Mas was not aware of the money in Andorra, says Pujol
In response to specific questions from MPs, Jordi Pujol repeated on many occasions that he had already answered that particular question during his judicial testimony on the 27th of January. Furthermore, he also insisted that on the 26th of September, in a previous parliamentary hearing to speak about his July confession, he already gave information about many of the issues they asked about. He repeated that the money kept by his family in Andorra came from a donation from his father made to Pujol's wife, sons and daughters in 1980, during the immediate years after Franco's dictatorship. The money was supposed to be a life-jacket if Pujol's political activities brought problems to the family, in times when the return of the dictatorship was a real possibility.
Pujol insisted that he came to the Catalan Parliament in September, despite "not being legally obliged" to do so. In addition, he emphasised that Artur Mas, the current President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Liberal party CDC, founded by Pujol in the late 1970s, was not aware of the money in Andorra since the day of the morning of the confession day.
Pujol also said that he does not know the details of his sons' and daughters' businesses. However, he did stress that "investing abroad is not a felony", referring to his eldest son’s international businesses and the trip he went on with him to Argentina, years after being Catalan President, to see his son’s business in Rosario. He also commented that as a father "he could warn them" if he saw something that he did not like about their professional activities, but could not do much more.
Pujol denies having illegally earned public money
Besides this, Pujol also stressed that he is "very calm" about his 23 years in government, as he is convinced that in general terms, things were done in the right way and that his governments’ actions were positive. In addition, he denied that any of the money he might have has come from corrupt practices. Furthermore, he added that he has no money abroad. Pujol was visibly annoyed by some questions and he criticised MPs for making assumptions and accusations based on rumours and without putting forward any proof.
Ferrusola affirms she did not manage funds in Andorra
Pujol’s wife, Marta Ferrusola, aged 80, spoke for a few minutes after him. Despite it having been said a few hours early that she would not answer questions, Ferrusola did answer some. She criticised the MPs for the questions posed and the tone, saying she felt "sorry" and that "Catalonia does not deserve this". She also stressed that she did not go to Andorra to manage the funds there and denied going there regularly to transport money. In addition, she denied that her family was living in luxury and even said that her sons and daughters "do not have a penny", although she later qualified this, saying she was not exclusively referring to money.