Friend of suspended parliament speaker confesses to splitting contracts, incriminating politician

Isaías Herrero admits to faking Catalan Institute of Letters quotes under Borràs' orders although she denies all charges

Laura Borràs sits beside Isaías Herrero and Andreu Pujol, the other two accused during the first day of the trial against the suspended parliament speaker for allegedly splitting contracts to avoid tenders on February 10, 2023
Laura Borràs sits beside Isaías Herrero and Andreu Pujol, the other two accused during the first day of the trial against the suspended parliament speaker for allegedly splitting contracts to avoid tenders on February 10, 2023 / Jordi Borràs
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

February 20, 2023 10:53 AM

February 20, 2023 05:27 PM

Isaías Herrero, a friend of suspended parliament speaker Laura Borràs, confessed to splitting contracts to avoid public tenders on Monday morning during the ongoing corruption trial on the matter, thus incriminating the politician.

Herrero, alongside Andreu Pujol and Borràs, is one of the people accused by the public prosecutor's office of wrongdoing. An IT expert, he has been negotiating a deal with the public attorney to incriminate himself and the politician to avoid imprisonment as he faces a six-year sentence and a €72,000 fine.

He has now admitted to making fake contracts for the Catalan Institute of Letters, a public body in charge of promoting Catalan literature, under Borràs' orders before the Junts politician became parliament speaker, although she denies all charges.

During his testimony, Herrero explained that contracts did not surpass €18,000 as this way they would not need to be put to a public tender according to the legislation at the time. They would have to split the required work into different parts to do it.


"We would hand out three different quotes for each contract, and we would write them so there would be two quotes accompanying the quote that we knew would end up being accepted, so we created fake quotations," Isaías Herrero said to the judge.

He said he was the person that created these quotes after asking Borràs the names of the companies that would be used to write the fake quotes, as seen in some private email exchanges between the politician and Herrero.

In some cases, the suspended parliament speaker proposed to write some of these contracts, but the IT expert wrote the quotations himself.

Laura Borràs, who is also the president of the pro-independence Junts party, faces up to six years in prison, could be barred from office for 21 years and fined €144,000 as per the public prosecutor’s request, which was made public in July 2022, a few days before the parliament suspended her from her post.

The trial is set to last until March 1 and will have seven sessions in total.

Borràs and Herrero are accused of administrative fraud, although the judge has also accused the politician of an administrative breach of official duty, falsification of a commercial document, and misuse of public funds. However, the public prosecutor did not accuse Borràs of misuse of public funds as there are no documents certifying that the suspended parliament speaker paid an additional amount for the requested work.

Third co-defendant

The third co-defendant in the Laura Borràs trial briefly responded to the public prosecutor and his lawyer's questions after acknowledging to the judge the veracity of the prosecution's indictment. 

Andreu Pujol was aware that the contracts were split up to "violate the public tender legislation." 

He also knew that the quotations that he submitted would be "selected," and he wrote the text that Isaías Herrero told him to in the quote. In some cases, the works done were "completely different, some real and some not," to what was written in the quotes.

The money he received was used to pay the staff working on the project, and he kept a small amount just as a coordination fee.

Accused of splitting contracts to avoid tenders

Between March 2013 and February 2017, the ILC awarded, "through its director," 18 minor contracts related to its website, for a total value of €330,000, in which Borràs "intervened", "proposing and awarding the contract, approving the expenditure, certifying the execution of the service, issuing the corresponding invoice and finally authorizing the payment," according to the judge's decree published on March 14, 2022.

Of these contracts, six were awarded to Isaías Herrero, for a total of €112,500, and one to Andreu Pujol, for €20,050. Six contracts were also awarded to the Xarxa Integral for €101,035 and three to Freelance for €54,437, two groups Isaías Herrero was a member of.

The contracts amounted to a total of €330,000, of which the ILC paid out €309,000 in the end. 

Shortly after being appointed director of the ILC, Borràs introduced Isaías Herrero to the staff as head of the website. The two exchanged emails, according to the judge, about invoices and contracts, concluding that the same vendor could not file invoices for different items in the same year and that they, therefore, had to "knock on doors" to invoice under different names to avoid exceeding the €18,000 maximum for minor contracts.

At the time, public contracts in Catalonia of over €18,000 had to be put to tender. The court alleges that Borràs fraudulently split a larger payment into smaller contracts in order to be able to choose who would be awarded the work to avoid putting it to public tender.