The President of the Catalan Government calls for a summit to strengthen the fight against corruption
The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) is organising a summit to define new initiatives against corruption. The meeting will be held next week and will gather together the main representatives of the Catalan Parliament, the Supreme Court of Justice of Catalonia, the Catalan Ombudsman, the Catalan Court of Audit and the Anti-Fraud Office of Catalonia. Political parties are not invited, as the summit is thought to be “complementary” to Parliament’s actions. The Catalan President will ask the attendees to provide him with ideas so that he can channel them and put them on the table for a wider debate. In the last few months, many corruption scandals have affected politicians in Catalonia and the rest of Spain.
Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, is organising a summit to define new initiatives to fight corruption. In the last few months, many corruption scandals have affected politicians and political parties in Catalonia and the rest of Spain, eroding the democratic system. Mas has showed his concern about the accumulation of suspicions of corruption affecting the many politicians and parties, but he wanted to emphasise that most of the public servants are honest and that in general terms the public sector acts correctly. The meeting will be held next week and will gather together the main representatives of the Catalan Parliament, the Supreme Court of Justice of Catalonia, the Prosecutor Office of Catalonia, the Catalan Ombudsman, the Catalan Court of Audit and the Anti-Fraud Office of Catalonia. Political parties are not invited, as the summit is thought to be “complementary” to Parliament’s actions, as Mas explained on Friday in a press conference. The Catalan President will ask the attendees to provide him with ideas so that he can channel them and put them on the table for a wider debate. The political parties of the opposition have all criticised being left out of the summit, except the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), which provides parliamentary stability so that the CiU is able to run the Catalan Government. The Spanish Government, which is run by the People’s Party, thought Mas’ initiative to be “positive” to strengthen democratic institutions.
In a press conference held at the Generalitat Palace on Friday morning, the President of the Catalan Government explained that between Thursday evening and this morning he contacted the top representatives of the main institutions in charge of controlling public action in Catalonia, with the aim of organising “a summit” with them all next week. Mas was reacting to the escalade of corruption scandals affecting Spanish and Catalan politics in the last few months, the latter being the so-called Bárcenas case that affects the top leaders of the People’s Party, including the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Despite not being proved, this has provoked a huge political storm, deeply affecting the democratic system.
Regarding Bárcenas’ case, ‘El País’ newspaper published a document that, according to them, would reflect the PP’s parallel accounts in which the names of many leaders of the party are mentioned. According to this document – whose authenticity has not been proved in court yet – they have received large amounts of money for many years without having paid any tax on them. In addition, many large companies, most of them from the construction sector, have been accused of donating large sums of money to the party. This case is part of the so-called Gurtel case, affecting the funding of the PP, which is being investigated by the Spanish justice. If it turns to be true, it might represent the largest corruption case in Spain in the last three decades. Despite not having been proved, the scandal has blasted the citizens’ confidence and many are outraged.
Prior to this latest scandal affecting the PP, other scandals have affected other politicians and parties, including Catalan ones. The most recent one is that affecting the former Mayor of Lloret de Mar and a member of the CiU, who is suspected of having received money from a Russian businessman and Lloret resident. This Russian citizen is also suspected of having connections with the Russian mafia. Judges are investigating and nothing has been proved yet. This scandal is to be added to other cases affecting the CiU, such as the so-called Pallerols case, in which Unió (UDC), the Christian-Democrat party of the CiU coalition, obtained money that had been deviated by third parties from public funds to pay for courses for unemployed people. This case is from the late 1990s, but the judicial sentence was passed last December.
In addition, the CiU is also affected by another scandal that is currently being investigated by a judge and no sentence has been issued. It is related to the Palau de la Música auditorium and its foundation, which was run by Félix Millet. Millet is being accused of deviating money from this foundation for his personal profit and the justice is currently investigating if the CiU or some of his senior members would have also obtained a profit out of it. Besides, during the last Catalan election campaign Artur Mas’ family and that of the former Catalan President Jordi Pujol were accused by the Spanish Nationalist newspaper ‘El Mundo’ of having secret accounts in Switzerland through a document that turned to be false. However, despite the document was false and nothing was proved, the scandal provoked a political earthquake during the week before the elections, which were mostly focused on the budget cuts and Catalonia’s right to self-determination.
However, the other parties are also affected by corruption scandals, such as the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). Two months ago, a scandal popped up affecting the Mayor of Sabadell, in Greater Barcelona, who is a senior member of the PSC. The case is being investigated by a judge and nothing has been proved yet. The PSC, which was until last elections Catalonia’s second largest party, has previously been involved in another corruption scandal in Greater Barcelona, in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, linked to urban development projects.
In the rest of Spain, many corruption scandals have been unveiled in the last few years, affecting Madrid, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia, and other Autonomous Communities. Many are related to town planning and the real estate bubble, consisting in local corruption networks. However, some also affected the funding of political parties or the entire activity of a town hall. On top of this, the Spanish Royal Family has also been hit by a scandal lead by Iñaki Undergarin, the King’s son-in-law, who is currently being investigated by a judge.