Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, did not hesitate to link the fiscal fraud confessed by the former Catalan President, Jordi Pujol, to the rest of the politicians supporting Catalonia's independence. In a public hearing before the Spanish Parliament to talk about fiscal fraud and Pujol's case, as manager of the country's Tax Agency, Montoro said that "those who radicalise their political speeches, pretending to challenge the State, are at the same time making money out of it and earning personal benefits", putting Pujol together with all those supporting independence. In addition, Montoro stated that the Spanish Tax Agency will act against Pujol and launch "administrative and judicial" processes. Finally, he added that he could not rule out the possibility that Pujol had committed "one or more felonies". The Catalan Government accused Montoro of using the State's structures to back "partisan interests" instead of merely "fighting fraud". Furthermore, the CiU criticised Montoro for linking Pujol's case to the Catalan self-determination process.
Pujol "made a great mistake" if he was thinking that with a press release confessing the fraud "he would have a fresh start", stated the Spanish Finance Minister on Tuesday morning. "In a democratic state, somebody who has been hiding a fortune for more than 30 years because of a mistake cannot just issue a mea culpa". Montoro praised the thorough investigations launched by the Spanish Tax Agency and the Spanish Police Force. "He saw himself in a dead-end. [The confession] has been a reaction to this", he emphasised. "Everything that had been hidden from the citizens is now blowing up in the air and this is happening thanks to the police", he stressed.
Montoro intentionally mixes Pujol's fraud with Catalonia's self-determination process
Despite the fact that there are hints suggesting that the Spanish authorities had known about Pujol's fraud for decades and decided to look the other way because the former Catalan President opposed independence, Montoro has now linked Pujol's fraud with independence support. The fraud confessed by Pujol's family was committed in 1980 and not confessed for 34 years. Jordi Pujol, who chaired the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003, started to publicly support independence in 2012. In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s he was an essential actor in Spain's stability and he worked to grant Catalonia greater levels of self-government whilst staying within Spain and opposing independence.
On Tuesday, Montoro said, referring to Pujol, that "those who radicalise their political speeches, pretending to challenge the State, are at the same time making money out of it and earning personal benefits". He also criticised "those who want to back these political speeches by asking for State institutions", such as a tax agency. Montoro, who has been extremely vocal against Catalan self-determination in the past few years, was therefore linking Pujol's fiscal fraud to the support for self-determination and independence, making no difference between the former Catalan President and the rest of the politicians who support this democratic stance. On top of this, he said that Catalans should wonder whether Pujol's fraud "is backed by other leaders in his party and whether his political heirs are polluted" by this affair.
The Catalan Government accuses Montoro of using the Tax Agency in "a partisan" way
The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, reacted to Montoro's words. He accused the Spanish Minister of "using the State's structures", such as the Spanish Tax Agency, to "follow partisan interests", since he is appearing in front of the Parliament as its main manager and uses the opportunity to attack Catalonia's self-determination process. Homs urged Montoro "to fight fiscal fraud and not fight political adversaries". He added that the Catalan Government has no powers to fight fiscal fraud and he wished it had them. In addition, Homs also reminded the press that the Catalan Government has gone through several independent audits regarding the 23 years Jordi Pujol was President, "and they found nothing", he concluded.