Former 'number 2' of governing Liberal party CDC, Oriol Pujol, denies corrupt practices
The Catalan Parliament has continued its interrogation of the Pujol family for alleged fiscal fraud and corrupt practices, after Jordi Pujol – who uninterruptedly headed the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003 – confessed in July that his family had kept a fortune in the fiscal haven of Andorra for 34 years without informing the Spanish tax authorities. Pujol (aged 84), his wife, and 6 of their 7 sons and daughters have been indicted by the judge in the case. On top of this, 3 sons have received further indictments for other cases, including Oriol Pujol, who was the Secretary General of the Liberal party CDC, which is the largest force within the two-party coalition CiU that has ran the Catalan Government since late 2010. On Monday, it was Oriol Pujol's turn to speak before the parliamentary commission investigating alleged fiscal fraud and corrupt practices during the 23 years Jordi Pujol led the Catalan Government.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Parliament has continued its interrogation of the Pujol family for alleged fiscal fraud and corrupt practices, after Jordi Pujol – who uninterruptedly headed the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003 – confessed in July that his family had kept a fortune in the fiscal haven if Andorra for 34 years without informing the Spanish tax authorities. Pujol (aged 84), his wife, and 6 of their 7 sons and daughters have been indicted by the judge in the case. On top of this, 3 sons have received further indictments for other cases, including Oriol Pujol, who was the Secretary General of the Liberal party CDC in 2012 and 2013, which is the largest force within the two-party coalition CiU that has ran the Catalan Government since late 2010. On Monday, it was Oriol Pujol's turn to speak before the parliamentary commission investigating alleged fiscal fraud and corrupt practices during the 23 years Jordi Pujol led the Catalan Government. The Pujol family are pointing towards political persecution, launched when Jordi senior started to openly support Catalonia's independence. Pujol was the leader of the conservative Catalan nationalism between the 1970s and the 2000s; one of the main actors of the fight against Franco, an essential person in the restoration and development of Catalonia's self-government and played a crucial role in Spain's democratic transition and political stabilisation of the 1990s. The former Catalan President had always supported greater self-rule for Catalonia while staying within Spain, having close relations with many Spanish Governments and institutions. Furthermore, his political hegemony in the 1980s and 1990s became a wall to keep support for independence at low levels.
The former 'number 2' of CDC, who had been funded by his father in the 1970s in a clandestine way during Franco's dictatorship, denied he had any money abroad at the present time. Oriol Pujol stated "I don't have anything to legalise", when MPs asked whether he had come clean with the Spanish tax authorities about the money kept for years in Andorra. However, he rejected giving further explanations about the management of this money in the 1990s and 2000s, since his oldest brother, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, will have to testify before the judge about these facts on 26 March. In fact, last week, neither Jordi Pujol senior, his wife Marta Ferrusola, nor their oldest son Jordi Pujol Ferrusola disclosed anything related to the management of this money, taking into account that there is an ongoing judicial process about it.
On Monday, it was Oriol's turn to speak before the parliamentary commission, but also that of Marta and Pere. None of them gave any explanations about the management of the money kept in Andorra, in order not to interfere with the judicial testimony that their oldest brother will have to give before the judge. Jordi Pujol Ferrusola managed the funds in the early 1990s, when all his siblings were no longer minors. However, it is not clear whether he was still managing the funds at a later stage and what happened to them.
Marta and Pere, also testified
Marta and Pere, who have been indicted in the case, denied having earned public contracts in an illegal way during the years their father was head of the Catalan Government. Marta Pujol, who is an architect, admitted that she had earned 12 contracts between 1988 and 1997 with the Catalan Government and only one had been allocated through a restricted public tender. However, she denied any corrupt or irregular allocation. She stressed that back then only 20% of her clients were public administrations and that in those years "many public works were being carried out". Right now, she works as a municipal architect in a medium-sized town hall, but with a temporary contract that has not gone through a public competition.
Pere, who is a businessman, explained that his company's contracts with public administrations represent only 15% of revenue. Furthermore, he stated that during the 7 years the CiU was not running the Catalan Government (2003-2010), this figure increased to 21%, rejecting the idea that his company was profiting from public contracts during the time the CiU was in power. In addition, he only became a partner of the company in 2007, despite working there since 1993. Pere Pujol also did not disclose details of how the Andorran money was being managed, insisting that his oldest brother will speak before the judge at the end of the month. However, he emphasised that with the legalisation of the fortune, the family had lost between 40% and 50% of the capital.
Oriol Pujol denies irregular practices in corporate relocations
Oriol Pujol is facing a judicial process for the allocation of licenses of technical vehicle inspection garages. The investigation has not yet been concluded but the judge's preliminary report suggests that he could have earned money through manipulating regulations and tenders to benefit his school friends' companies. In fact, Pujol resigned from his posts because of this case and has left politics for the time being. Before the Catalan parliament, he stressed that the judicial investigation has still not been concluded after two years of being indicted and that the trial has not yet taken place. Oriol Pujol took the opportunity to deny these accusations, which also involve his wife.
In addition, in the past few weeks some media outlets have published stories suggesting that he and his wife could have earned money through corporate relocations abroad, which come with a significant job loss. These news outlets were also accusing him of earning money for asking the current Catalan President and CiU's leader, Artur Mas, to intervene in the relocation process and help to find a business alternative to keeping the factory open and retaining many of the jobs. Three weeks ago, Mas insisted that such negotiations were part of his job as Catalan President and that he has intervened in many of these processes at the request of many MPs, including many from opposition parties. Oriol Pujol denied having earned money with any industrial relocation process and defended the Catalan President's action. Furthermore, he insisted on the idea that there is political persecution being carried out by Spanish authorities against the Pujol family and the current Catalan President because of their support for Catalonia's independence from Spain.