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Unionist parties question legality of government risk fund set up to cover fines

Pro-independence cabinet intends for it to pay former officials' Court of Auditors charges

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09 July 2021 12:46 PM

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ACN|Barcelona

News of the Catalan government's plans to set up a €10 million risk fund to cover fines such as those recently handed out by Spain's Court of Auditors, announced on Tuesday, has not sat well with unionist parties.

Although the cabinet intends for it to cover the €5.4 million charges for over 30 former officials for spending public money on the government's foreign action plan during the independence push that culminated in 2017, Catalonia's unionist parties are questioning the legality of this strategy.

The Socialists, Ciudadanos, and the People's Party have all confirmed that they will be taking the matter to Catalonia's Council of Statutory Guarantees (CGE), which is tasked with determining whether Catalan government and parliament measures are legally sound.

Salvador Illa, Spain's former health minister who now heads the Socialists in Catalonia, said that his party will vote in favor of it in Parliament if the CGE establishes that it is indeed legal.

"It is reasonable for us to have our doubts and for us to want them to be dispelled," Illa told Catalunya Ràdio on Friday morning. "The timing of this measure is questionable."

Ciudadanos and the People's Party, who have raised the issue in the CGE together, believe the Catalan cabinet's decree is "manifestly unconstitutional."

"They have squandered the public resources of all Catalans for partisan purposes," charged Carlos Carrizosa of Ciudadanos, the party that up until the most recent elections headed the unionist opposition. 

Meanwhile, far-right Vox is set to challenge the decree's legality in Spain's Constitutional Court and file a complaint with Catalonia's High Court (TSJC) for "the alleged crime of breach of official duty and embezzlement."

Puigdemont appeals fine

Catalonia's president at the time of the 2017 independence referendum, Carles Puigdemont, has appealed his €2,085,507.80 fine.

Puigdemont's legal team filed a complaint with the Court of Auditors alleging that the former president, a member of the European parliament, has political immunity and that it must request permission to fine him from the chamber.  

At the same time, his lawyers have also asked for more time to cover the charges as they claim it is "impossible" to repay such a large sum in only 15 days. 

 

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  • Catalan Socialist leader Salvador Illa in Parliament (by Arnald Prat)

  • Catalan Socialist leader Salvador Illa in Parliament (by Arnald Prat)

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