Judge believes the governing and main Catalan party CDC earned €5.1 million in an influence peddling case
CDC fully denies the accusations. The judge investigating one of the major corruption scandals in Catalonia, the so-called ‘Palau’ case, has finished the four-year investigation and now the trial can start. The judge accuses Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC) – the Liberal party within the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition CiU – of having illicitly received €5.1 million from the construction company Ferrovial through donations made to Barcelona’s Palau de la Música concert hall. The judge believes the money was allegedly given in exchange for the allocation of public work contracts. The former treasurer of CDC and a former Catalan MP, as well as two managers of Ferrovial are accused. In addition, the judge will also bring to trial the main managers of the Palau de la Música, Fèlix Millet and Jordi Montull. Millet and Montull are also accused of having stolen €26 million from the cultural organisation.
Barcelona (ACN).- The judge investigating one of the major corruption scandals in Catalonia, the so-called ‘Palau’ case, has finished on Tuesday the investigation, which has lasted four years. The judge accuses Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC) – the Liberal party within the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) – of having illicitly received €5.1 million from the construction company Ferrovial through donations made to Barcelona’s Palau de la Música concert hall. The judge, Josep Maria Pijuan, believes the money was allegedly given in exchange for the allocation of public work contracts. In a press release, CDC – which is chaired by the Catalan President Artur Mas – fully denied the accusations. It stated it respects the justice procedures but insisted that the accusation are “false”, “do not have a solid base” and “are not proven”. The former treasurer of CDC Daniel Osàcar and the former Catalan MP Jaume Camps, as well as the managers of Ferrovial Pedro Buenaventura and Juan Elizaga Corrales are accused. In addition, Pijuan will also bring to trial the main managers of the Palau de la Música, Fèlix Millet, Jordi Montull and Rosa Garicano. In fact, Millet and Montull have been the main focus of attention during the four-year investigation, since there was evidence they might have stolen millions for their personal profit. Now the judge formerly accuses Millet and Montull of having stolen €26 million from the cultural organisation. In a 47-page final report, Pijuan accused a total of 17 people, although he admitted more people might be involved. However, he explained he has not been able to go any further with the investigation due to a lack of evidence. In this respect, he regretted the lack of cooperation by some banks and that the final destination of some of the stolen money is still unclear. Because of these limitations, the judge decided to end the investigation in order not to delay the trial any longer which will start in the coming months.
Four years after the investigation started, the judge Josep Maria Pijuan ended the investigation of the Palau case and now the trial can finally start. This case shocked Catalan society when it popped up four years ago, since it was directly affecting Fèlix Millet, who used to be a respectable person within the Catalan cultural landscape and the chairman of the Orfeó Català – Palau de la Música foundation. Furthermore, the case started by investigating Millet but soon Catalonia’s main political party – CDC – began to be affected by the case. The investigation was pointing out that some Palau de la Música funds might have allegedly been deviated towards CDC. The judge has formally backed up these accusations with the report issued today.
According to the report, Ferrovial was giving 4% of the cost of an allocated public contract for building some public infrastructure (including the construction of court houses, a metro line, etc) to the Palau de la Música’s foundation as a donation. Then, the judge states that 2.5% was going to CDC and 1.5% to Fèlix Millet and Jordi Montull as mediators. Pijuan explains that 80% of this last amount was for Millet and the remaining 20% for Montull. According to the judge, Ferrovial’s money were for “paying commissions for the allocation of public works by the Catalan Government and other public bodies, which was necessarilly made through a three-party agreement”. The three parties are members of CDC, managers of Ferrovial and those of the Palau de la Música. The judge accuses Buenaventura and Elizaga Corrales of participating in the influence peddling case from the Ferrovial side. From the side of the political party, the judge accused two former treasurers of CDC: Carles Torrent – who died in 2005 – and Daniel Osàcar, who succeeded Torrent. In addition, the judge considered that the former Member of the Catalan Parliament Jaume Camps, of the CDC, would have received “some payment” at least once, “in March 2003, when he received from Fèlix Millet the amount of 5.45 million pesetas” (around €33,000).
According to the judge’s report, Millet “profiting from his absolute power” within the Orfeó Català – Palau de la Música foundation, in cooperation with Montull, Montull’s daughter – Gemma Montull – and Garicano, “plundered the funds” of the institution. Pijuan accuses them of paying for personal expenses such as house renovations and trips, with funds from the institution. In total they would have stolen €26 million, according to the judge.
The judge decided to end the investigation despite the fact that “the destination of a large share of the Palau de la Música’s funds that were deviated has not been found”, he stated in his final report. Pijuan regretted “the lack of cooperation” of some banks in order to find out the destination of some bank cheques or money withdraws. Pijuan will inform the Bank of Spain about this issue and ask it to take the necessary measures. The judge concluded that at this point he cannot continue with the investigation since he has already explored all the possible trails. In order not to delay the trial, he took the decision to end the investigation and bring 17 people to trial.
CDC fully denies the accusations
The Catalan political party fully denied the accusations through a press release issued on Monday. CDC insisted that neither the party, nor its political foundation (which is also accused by the judge of participating in the Palau case), nor any of its managers “have never” profited from the Palau de la Música or the institutions linked to this cultural organisation. CDC stated the accusations are “false and not proved”. In addition, it reminded that the Palau de la Música has filed formal complaints against Millet, Montull, Montull’s daughter and Garicano, but not against CDC, despite being “the most harmed” side within the corruption case. In fact, the Palau de la Música Foundation has not filed in any complaint against the political party but only against its former managers and employees.
The Catalan Government considers the judge conclusions to be “contradictory”
The Catalan Government, which is run by the CiU and has many members of the CDC in it, considered that the investigation’s conclusions were “contradictory” with the fact that the Palau de la Música itself was not accusing the political party of having participated in the deviation of funds from the cultural institution. The Spokesperson of the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, emphasised that the trial is still pending and he hoped it will start and end soon, in order to clarify the situation. Homs stated that the judge´s report “does not show, neither prove” that the political party received money in an illicit way in exchange for allocating public work contracts. He also reminded that the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, who leads CDC, will talk in front of the Catalan Parliament about this case on the 31st of July.