The Spanish Government admits that the report accusing the Catalan President of corruption is not official
A few hours earlier, the Swiss bank Lombard Odier stated that the Catalan presidents Artur Mas and Jordi Pujol do not have any relationship with the company. The Spanish nationalist newspaper ‘El Mundo’ published a report 9 days before the Catalan elections, with the official stamp of the Spanish Police on it, accusing the incumbent President of the Catalan Government, and candidate for re-election from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, of having secret accounts in Switzerland. The fake report also incriminated Mas’ family, the former Catalan President Jordi Pujol and two of Pujol’s sons. The report completely altered the election campaign. Now, four months after the report was issued, the Catalan Government has demanded a public rectification since some Spanish Ministers and leading members of the People’s Party validated the report at the time.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Tuesday, the Spanish Home Affairs Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, stated before a Spanish Parliament committee that the draft report accusing the Catalan Presidents Artur Mas and Jordi Pujol – as well as their families – of having secret accounts in Switzerland is not an official document and has never been validated by the Spanish Police. Furthermore, Fernández Díaz admitted that after a four-month investigation his department does not know where the report came from and that no member of the Spanish Police unit for fiscal felonies – where the report supposedly came from – admitted being its author. This is equivalent to saying the published report had been falsified or is fake. On top of this, the Swiss bank Lombard Odier has certified that neither Mas nor Pujol have any relationship with the company. The fake report was first published by Spanish nationalist media a week and a half before the Catalan elections. Since it incriminated the main candidate and incumbent President, it attracted most of the attention up until the voting day and totally altered the campaign.
The Catalan Government and the CiU ask for assumptions of responsibility
On Tuesday, the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, demanded public rectification since some Spanish Ministers and leading members of the People’s Party (PP) validated the report at the time. In addition, Homs compared the accusation with “the Inquisition” times, when “somebody was accused by an anonymous person and had to prove he or she was innocent of the accusations”, as otherwise he or she “was put on the bonfire”.
The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), which runs the Catalan Government, has accused Fernández Díaz of “concealing the State’s sewers” and being “the Minister of the dirty war”. The CiU also complained about having to wait for 4 months for the Spanish Home Affairs Ministry to find out whether a report is theirs or it is a falsified document, while for other cases, the Spanish Police is much quicker with its investigations. In addition, the CiU also asked for responsibility depuration, as it is “a shameful” episode that affects democracy and the functioning of the rule of law in Spain.
El Mundo stated the report came from the UDEF
The Spanish Home Affairs Minister stated on Tuesday, before a parliamentary committee, that the Spanish Police Internal Affairs has not found the author of the draft report. Artur Mas and Jordi Pujol filed a judiciary complain in November against El Mundo and the two journalists who signed the article for defamation. The two journalists stated before the judge that the published draft came from the police unit for fiscal felonies (UDEF) and they also added that several chiefs from the Spanish Home Affairs Ministry had validated it.
No one from the UDEF admits to being the author of the report
On Tuesday, Fernández Díaz explained that the 300 members of the UDEF – where the report supposedly came from – have all testified before Internal Affairs that they did not write the report. In addition, no police commanders have admitted to writing it or validating such a report. Furthermore, Fernández Díaz explained that the published document “does not correspond in an exact or literal way to any official document compiled by the central UDEF within the investigation of the ‘Palau’ case” – a corruption scandal that might affect the CiU’s funding and which is currently being judicially investigated. Additionally, he stated that the report “contains some data from previous reports and judicial processes”, which could “partially explain” some information published by El Mundo, but not the entire report and its main accusations. Furthermore, the Spanish Home Affairs Minister explained that “it is a current practice by the police units to prepare drafts” but that they only become official “if the respective heads validate the reality of the information contained and consider it to be consistent”.
The police officer distributing copies of the report just before the elections has been sanctioned
Finally, Fernández Díaz added that disciplinary action has been started against José Manuel Sánchez Fornet, the Secretary General of the police union SUP, who gave a press conference two days before the Catalan elections – a week after the report had been published – and distributed the report, stating it had been written by police officers angry with their bosses. The Spanish Minister stated that Sánchez Fornet refused to say who the authors of the report were, if they existed.
A political bomb launched in the middle of an electoral process
The Spanish-nationalist newspaper El Mundo, published on the 16th of November, 9 days before the Catalan elections, a document with the official title that the Spanish Police were accusing the incumbent President of the Catalan Government, and candidate for re-election from the CiU, Artur Mas, of having secret accounts in Switzerland. The report, which has turned to be fake, also incriminated Mas’ family, the former Catalan President Jordi Pujol and two of Pujol’s sons; El Mundo accused them of having €165 million in Lombard Odier accounts. Mas and Pujol immediately denied the accusations, but the report completely altered the election campaign and during the last week before voting the corruption accusations attracted all the attention. Artur Mas represented the main candidate of the supporters of Catalonia’s self-determination process and an eventual independence from Spain. In fact, Catalonia’s self-determination right was the main political debate during the campaign.
A report used as a political weapon
Back then, some Spanish Ministers and leading members of the People’s Party used the report as a political weapon, in the middle of the electoral campaign. The PP Secretary General, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, acted as if the report were true, despite Mas and Pujol having denied it, referring on several occasions to having accounts in Switzerland. The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaria, and the Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, reacted in a similar way. For instance, Montoro – who is in charge of the Spanish Tax Agency – refused to give an explanation about the fiscal amnesty and whether members of his party (the PP) such as the former treasurer Luís Bárcenas would have profited from it, to the Spanish Parliament. Instead, when he was asked about the fiscal amnesty and appearing before the Parliament, Montoro stated a week before the Catalan elections that “who has to appear is whoever has accounts in Switzerland!” A few weeks later, it was published that the PP’s former treasurer could have €22 million in Switzerland and Cospedal immediately reacted as if the accusations were false.