Son of former Catalan President, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, speaks about some of his businesses but not the Andorran money
Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, the eldest son of former Catalan President Jordi Pujol, has testified before the Catalan Parliament’s commission investigating fraud and corruption. He did so after the testimonies of his father and mother, while all 3 have been indicted and are in the middle of judicial processes for alleged fraud. Unlike his parents, Pujol Jr answered most of the questions posed - except those related to money the family had kept in Andorra for 34 years without informing the Spanish tax authorities. Pujol Jr said he will explain this directly to the judge in his testimony scheduled for the 26th of March. However, he did speak before the parliamentary commission for 4.5 hours about some of his business activities and his accumulated wealth. He also denied having operated from fiscal havens (besides the family money in Andorra) and having practiced influence peddling or any corrupt activity profiting from his father’s position. Besides this, he also emphasised he is an “intimate friend” of the current Catalan President, Artur Mas, despite the latter having denied this a few days ago.
Barcelona (ACN).- The son of former Catalan President Jordi Pujol, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, testified before the Catalan Parliament’s commission investigating fraud and corruption on Monday evening. He did so after the testimonies of his father and mother, while all 3 have been indicted and are in the middle of judicial processes for alleged fiscal fraud. Unlike his parents, Pujol Jr answered most of the questions asked by MPs, except those related to money the family had kept in the fiscal haven of Andorra for 34 years without informing the Spanish tax authorities, as confessed by the former Catalan President in July. Pujol Jr refused to provide answers concerning this specific issue and said he will explain this directly to the judge in his testimony scheduled for the 26th of March. In answering many other questions about his business activities, Pujol Ferrusola surprised many people, as it was expected he would give very few answers or answer none directly.
Before the parliamentary commission, Pujol Jr talked for 4.5 hours about some of his business activities and some of his accumulated wealth, such as his collection of luxury classic cars, which includes 3 Ferraris and 2 Lamborghinis, among other classics. The eldest son of the former Catalan President gave a detailed account of many of his companies, such as the businesses he run in Rosario (Argentina) and in other foreign countries such as Mexico and Gabon. He said he had earned a total of some €22 million between 2004 and 2013 and that he has €8 million in a Spanish bank, rejecting the rumours of having a €1.8 billion fortune or €32 million in bank accounts. These are “myths”, he said. He also added that he had paid some €7.5 million in taxes on this income. Pujol Jr showed several reports from the Spanish tax agency, insisting he had been investigated and that no major irregularities had been found.
Pujol Jr presented himself as a successful businessman and added that when he is working in a sector he is not familiar with, he asks for expert advice, comparing his situation with that of many politicians and MPs, who have to speak about many different topics, sometimes far removed from their original specialisations. Some MPs interpreted this statement as an attack on them. Although, later on, Pujol Jr denied any intention of attacking them and said he only wanted to answer those questioning the reasons for his professional activities being carried out in a wide range of sectors, since in the last months there has been public speculation about it.
Pujol Jr says he never operated businesses through fiscal havens
Furthermore, Pujol Jr denied having ever operated from fiscal havens besides the family money in Andorra, which came from a legacy from his grandfather in 1980, confirming his father’s July confession. According to Pujol Ferrusola, his grandfather left some 140 million pesetas in 1980. The money had come from trading with currencies in the 1970s, mostly American dollars in Morroco. Pujol Ferrusola stressed that the money never touched Spanish soil.
The eldest son of the former President added that he bought financial products from a BBVA branch in Barcelona and that the bank could have later operated with this money in fiscal havens without informing him, as it does with all the clients. This could be the origin of the rumours suggesting he had money in fiscal havens such as the Cayman Islands. According to him, many banks practice this and it should be the Bank of Spain’s job to intervene if it considers it to be inappropriate. However, until that comes, BBVA operations from fiscal havens are legal and he was at no point aware of such activities, stated Pujol Jr. On top of this, Pujol Sr. criticised the BBVA for having “expelled” him, making him close his accounts with them recently.
In addition, he stated that he currently has no money abroad, although he admitted he has had accounts in Mexico, Miami (US) and Luxembourg in the recent past, insisting that all of them were transparent and known to the Spanish authorities. The account in Mexico was opened when he was running businesses there. The one in Miami was opened because his daughter was living there, he said, and that in Luxembourg was opened when, during the worst part of the financial crisis, there was a fear that Spain would leave the Eurozone. Many rich people with Spanish bank accounts took the money away, he highlighted. He emphasised that in all cases, the accounts were opened in a transparent way, and the Spanish tax authorities duly informed. Regarding this topic, he denied having travelled to or from Andorra with his former girlfriend, Victòria Álvarez, to transport money. “This is another myth”, he emphasised.
La Camarga recording
Álvarez has said the contrary in many media interviews and at a lunch she shared with the leader of the People’s Party (PP) in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez Camacho, in 2010 which was illegally recorded by a spying agency called Método 3 at La Camarga restaurant in Barcelona. This recording had been arranged by the PP in 2010, but was not made public until 2012, a few days after the first public statements of Jordi Pujol senior in favour of Catalonia’s independence from Spain. In fact, until very recently, the former Catalan President had always advocated for greater self-rule power for Catalonia while remaining a part of Spain, blocking independence. Pujol Jr emphasised that it is not by chance that the judicial problems of the Pujol family began when the former Catalan President started to support independence and stopped advocating for a more modern Spain with Catalonia is part of it. The former President, who ran the Catalan Government for 23 consecutive years between 1980 and 2003, was a crucial figure in the fight against Franco, in Spain’s democratic transition in the 1970s, and in the main reforms carried out in the 1980s and 1990s in Spain.
Regarding the recording, Sánchez Camacho reached a judicial agreement with Método 3 in order not to disclose it. The Catalan Parliament has asked Sánchez Camacho, who has been an MP in the past and currently is a Spanish Senator appointed by the Catalan Parliament, to talk before the commission, but so far the PP leader has always rejected doing so, since attendance at the hearing is voluntary, even when giving testimony. However, Pujol Jr gave the commission a copy of the entire conversation between Álvarez and Sánchez-Camacho, which he claimed he received from an anonymous source.
Pujol Ferrusola denies having used his father’s position to do business with Catalonia’s public sector
Pujol Jr also denied having practiced influence peddling or any corrupt activity, therefore not profiting from his father’s position in order to do business with Catalonia’s public sector organisations. He emphasised that, from the beginning of his career as a businessman, he focused his activities on working abroad and particularly far from Catalonia. Furthermore, he said that most of his businesses worked with private actors, although he also worked with public sector organisations abroad. However, he said that he never did any business involving tenders or concessions from the Catalan Government. Pujol Jr mentioned a waste depot he built with private partners in southern Catalonia in 2002-2003 and said that he received the definitive authorisation to operate from the left-wing cabinet that was running the Catalan Executive after his father’s party CiU lost power in 2003.
Intimate friends with Artur Mas?
As well as this, Pujol Jr also emphasised that he is an “intimate friend” of the current Catalan President, Artur Mas, who became the political heir of the former leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and Catalan President, Jordi Pujol. The eldest son of Pujol said that he is sure that if he ever needed Mas, the current President will be there for him. However, a few days ago, Mas denied having ever been good friends with Pujol Ferrusola, although he admitted they had a friendly relationship in the past but far from an intimate one.