Supreme Court rejects appeals from former Catalan officials fined over 2014 independence vote

Ex-president Mas among those who contested Court of Auditors claim for money spent on 2014 non-binding participatory process

Former members of the Catalan government appear at the Supreme Court in 2017 (by Javier Barbancho)
Former members of the Catalan government appear at the Supreme Court in 2017 (by Javier Barbancho) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 1, 2021 10:59 AM

The Supreme Court in Madrid has not accepted the appeals of the former members of the Catalan government fined for calling a non-binding vote on independence in 2014, prior to the 2017 referendum.

Held on November 9, 2014, the referendum-like vote was deemed illegal and eventually led to the disqualification of former president Artur Mas and other senior officials for the crime of disobedience. They had their assets and properties seized over a €5 million fine.

The Court of Auditors confirmed the fines in a ruling issued in July 2019, arguing that "public funds were used to pay for an illegal goal, and no budget item could legally account for these expenses."

Alongside Mas, who presided over the Catalan government from 2010 to 2016 and was instrumental in kickstarting the independence push, the Court of Auditors also fined former vice president Joana Ortega, former minister Francesc Homs, and five other former officials.

40 officials fined for spending money abroad

In a separate case, Mas and 33 other former officials were fined another €5.4 million by the Court of Auditors this week for promoting the independence push internationally.

Former Catalan president Artur Mas and former finance minister Andreu Mas-Colell face a €2.8m claim, for the public funds allegedly spent from 2011 to 2016 on international trips and government offices abroad.

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and former vice president Oriol Junqueras must pay 1.98m for their tenure between 2016 and 2017, when Catalonia held a referendum deemed illegal and declared independence.

In all, some 40 former officials are under investigation, including some of the politicians who spent more than three years in prison for their role during the referendum bid and who were pardoned last week by the Spanish government, such as Junqueras.

The Court of Auditors has scrutinized the public funds spent by Diplocat, a semipublic consortium aimed at fostering Catalonia's interests abroad, and which encompasses the Catalan government, local and regional authorities, trade unions, universities, and even FC Barcelona.