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Pro-independence parties to act as guarantors for officials to avoid seizure of assets

Accused individuals for illicit foreign action in 2010s face €5.4m provisional fine 

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16 October 2021 09:52 AM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Esquerra and Junts per Catalunya parties will try to act as guarantor for some former officials who are facing an order of seizure of their assets.

Spain's Court of Auditors provisionally fined 34 individuals €5.4m altogether for illicit foreign action allegedly aiming to benefit the independence campaign from 2011 to 2017.

Esquerra will cover €2m of them, for those accused in high-ranking government posts between 2016 and 2017. This would include the amount required to former president Carles Puigdemont, president of its main rival party in the independence camp, Junts.

Yet, the exiled leader's political force said Esquerra has not been in touch with Puigdemont, and added that they are also contributing to cover the fines, with €3.3 m, which also includes real estates presented by those accused. The exact amount paid by Junts has not been released.

The Catalan government tried to act as a guarantor through its finances institute to avoid the former officials face the fines, but on Thursday, the court did not reject the guarantee and ordered for an immediate seizure of assets to 28 of them.

Sources of the party say that other individuals affected by the accounting body's decision are trying to deposit real estates to avoid the seizure – yet, Esquerra believes it is not certain that either option works to stop the provisional confiscations, because the court is acting "arbitrarily and fast."

Esquerra, whose president is Oriol Junqueras, one of the individuals facing the seizure of assets, has called on the public to donate money to cover the entire amounts requested by the Spanish authority. 

Former presidents Mas and Puigdemont among individuals involved

Spain's Court of Auditors is set to seize the assets of 28 former officials accused of illicit foreign action from 2011 to 2017 for whom the Catalan Public Finance Institute had put up a €5.4 million guarantee.

The accounting body rejected the Catalan government's move to cover the potential fine on Thursday morning after calling it into question when it was first announced late last July.

The public Finance Institute attempted to put up the money to prevent these individuals, including former presidents Artur Mas and Carles Puigdemont, from having their assets seized as the Court of Auditors deliberates on whether they should ultimately be fined or not. 

Andreu Mas-Colell, the man who was in charge of finance and budgeting in Catalonia’s government from the economic crisis after the 2008 crash until January 2016, almost two years before the referendum, is also in the list. He received a wave of international support in June as he faces a multi-million euro fine.

A total of 34 former government employees were accused of illegally promoting the Catalan push for independence abroad throughout the 2010s - a charge that was not addressed in the 2019 Supreme Court trial of 9 leaders who were sentenced, and then pardoned, for the 2017 referendum. 

The Court of Auditors continues to look into their civil liability although the Supreme Court ruling only made mention of €2.02m in misused public funds associated with the organization of the 2017 referendum.

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  • Image of Esquerra party president, Oriol Junqueras, in a political rally in Cornellà de Llobregat, on September 12, 2021 (by Guillem Roset)

  • Image of Esquerra party president, Oriol Junqueras, in a political rally in Cornellà de Llobregat, on September 12, 2021 (by Guillem Roset)

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