Judicial investigations heat up against Pujol family's alleged fiscal offenses and influence peddling
On Thursday, Oleguer Pujol, the youngest son of the former Catalan President, Jordi Pujol Soley, was formally indicted for alleged fiscal fraud and money laundering. The Spanish Police and the Public Prosecutor searched his house and several of his companies looking for files regarding real estate operations. This makes Oleguer the third son of the historical leader of conservative Catalan nationalism to be indicted for fiscal offenses. Furthermore, on Wednesday another judge indicted 11 people related to the former President's oldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola – who seems to be at the centre of almost all the investigations. In addition, the judge has requested the freezing of his bank accounts in Andorra, from which he transferred €2.4 million to Mexico just after his father's fiscal fraud confession in July. On top of this, a judge from Liechtenstein is investigating the former Catalan President for alleged money laundering, after requests from the Spanish Police. Jordi Pujol senior has denied having had any bank account in the Alpine country.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Thursday, Oleguer Pujol, the youngest son of the former President of the Catalan Government, Jordi Pujol Soley, was formally indicted for alleged fiscal fraud and money laundering by Spain's High Court judge Santiago Pedraz. The Spanish Police and the Public Prosecutor, both linked to the Spanish Government, searched Oleguer Pujol's house and several offices of his companies on Thursday morning. They were looking for documents and files regarding 7 real estate operations and the origin of the money with which he bought 1,152 office spaces from Banc Sabadell and a hotel in the Canaries. In addition, the Spanish Police detained Oleguer Pujol for a few hours while the search and seizure was being conducted and, later, he was taken to a police station to testify, although he refused to do so. This makes Oleguer the third son of the historical leader of the conservative Catalan nationalism to be indicted. Furthermore, on Wednesday, another judge of Spain's High Court, Pablo Ruz, decided to indict 11 people related to businesses run by the former Catalan President's oldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, who already testified in front of Ruz in September. The Madrid-based judge believes that the business advisory services offered by Jordi Pujol Ferrussola could have been faked and could involve possible influence peddling and fiscal offenses, including tax evasion and money laundering. Ruz has also requested to freeze his bank accounts in Andorra, from which Jordi Pujol Ferrussola transferred €2.4 million to Mexico just after his father's fiscal fraud confession in late July. In fact, Pujol's oldest son, who has managed many businesses in South America, is at the centre of most of the ongoing judicial investigations involving the family.
On top of this, on Tuesday a judge from Liechtenstein launched an investigation into the former Catalan President himself for alleged money laundering, after requests from the Spanish Police. On Wednesday, Jordi Pujol senior denied ever having had any bank account in this tax haven. The former Catalan President had addressed the Catalan Parliament in late September to give further details about his July confession, although he did not answer the manifold questions from the political parties. His third son, Oriol – who had been the 'number 3' of the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, is also indicted for an influence peddling and bribery case regarding licenses for technical vehicle inspection garages awarded by the Catalan Government. Oriol was the first of Pujol's son to be indicted, back in March 2013, and the investigation is still ongoing.
All these alleged fiscal and corruption offenses affecting the Pujol family have shocked the Catalan society, particularly after the fiscal fraud confession of the former President. Furthermore, these alleged offenses have been used by Spanish nationalists to attack Catalonia's self-determination process, even though Jordi Pujol senior had been against independence until very recently. In fact, he has been one of the leading figures of Spain's democratic transition after Franco's dictatorship and he greatly contributed to Spain's political and economic stability in the 1980s and 1990s, essential for joining the European Union and the Eurozone. Furthermore, there are many hints suggesting that the Spanish authorities knew about Pujol's activities for decades but decided to cover up for him as he was stopping Catalonia's pro-independence movement from growing. However, in 2012, Jordi Pujol senior stated for the first time that he would vote for independence. The news about his family's fortune started back then, followed by judicial investigations, even though there had been rumours circulating for many years.
Oleguer Pujol is indicted for fiscal fraud and money laundering
On Thursday early morning, the youngest son of the former Catalan President was detained by the Spanish Police while they were carrying out a search and seizure operation in his Barcelona residence and in his companies' offices in Barcelona, Madrid, Melilla and Valencia. The Public Prosecutor Office, linked to the Spanish Justice Minister, also participated in the operation. The Madrid-based Audiencia Nacional judge Santiago Pedraz ordered the operation, looking for files about 7 real estate operations and the origin of the money with which he bought 1,152 office space owned by Banc Sabadell and a hotel in the Canaries. The money seems to have come from the Virgin Islands and its first origin is uncertain. In addition, the investment companies that run Oleguer Pujol's real estate operation are owned by offshore societies.
One of his business partners, Luis Iglesias, was also detained during the search and seizure, but in the end he was not formally indicted, confirmed judicial sources (although the Public Prosecutor initially said he had been indicted). During the operation, Spanish Police officers seized many documents and IT files from Oleguer Pujol's house and companies. After the seizure, Oleguer Pujol and Luis Iglesias were released, although a few hours later Pujol's son was taken to a Spanish Police station to testify, which he refused to do. By the end of the day, he was released, although the judicial investigation is far from ending and he will have to testify in front of the judge.
11 people are indicted in relation to Jordi Pujol Ferrussola's case
On Wednesday, another judge from the Audiencia Nacional, Pablo Ruz, announced he was indicting 11 additional people somehow related to Jordi Pujol Ferrussola and his former wife, Mercè Gironès. Both of them had testified in front of the judge on the 15th of September, but after further investigations, the judge is expanding the case. 8 are businessmen who had been working with Jordi Pujol Ferrusola in several business operations and the 3 other are Gironès' parents and brother. The judge believes that all 11 could have "participated or collaborated with Jordi Pujol Ferrussola's activities in specific mercantile operations that are being investigated". They will have to testify in the Madrid-based court on the 12 of November. Furthermore, the judge will call 27 additional testimonies to testify.
On top of this, judge Ruz asked for tax and banking information about Jordi Pujol Ferrussola's business activities in Mexico, United Kingdom and Liechtenstein. So far, he had already asked for information from Switzerland and Andorra. In addition, judge Ruz requested the freezing of his bank accounts in Andorra after knowing that Jordi Pujol Ferrussola would have transferred €2.43 million to Mexico just after his father confessed to family fiscal fraud in late July. Jordi Pujol Ferrussola and his former wife are indicted for fiscal fraud and money laundering.
Liechtenstein is investigating the former Catalan President
On Tuesday it was announced that a judge from Liechtenstein has launched an investigation into Jordi Pujol senior for money laundering, after the requests sent by the Spanish Police. The Liechtenstein judge has asked a judge from Barcelona to send him information about the former Catalan President's penal records and the cases open against him. The request from Vaduz (the capital city of the Alpine country) has been sent via the Interpol. Previously, the Spanish Police had requested fiscal information about Pujol senior to Liechtenstein fiscal authorities.
The Spanish Police had asked for the same information to Andorran and Swiss authorities. The judge from Andorra stated they can only sent such information if Pujol senior is formerly accused of corruption. The judge from Switzerland answered in a similar way, emphasising that they can only send the information – if there is any – if Spanish authorities send them further information about the exact date and place of the alleged offenses, the identity of the people involved, the way in which they participated and the way to operate". In addition, in the case of money laundering, information about the previous offense (the origins of the money) also has to be provided. The former Catalan President was asked by the press about Lichtenstein's investigation and answered that he does not have and he did not have any bank account in the Alpine country.