Prison of up to 9.5 years for main offenders in major corruption case
Court orders CDC party to repay 6.6 million euros after it is found guilty of illegal funding in sentence involving former officials of the Palau de la Música concert hall
The infamous so-called ‘Palau’ case has finally come to a close. The long-drawn-out investigation into allegations of corruption and financial irregularities by Catalan cultural officials and a major Catalan political party now has a verdict. The court sentenced the two former Palau officials, Fèlix Millet and Jordi Montull, to 9 years and 8 months and 7.5 years in prison, respectively. Both men were in charge of the Palau de la Música concert hall for decades, and confessed to diverting funds from the cultural entity into their own bank accounts. The court found Millet and Montull guilty of taking 23 million euros from the institution. Montull’s daughter, Gemma, who was also charged, was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.
The case involved the CDC party, with former treasurer Daniel Osàcar sentenced to 4 years and five months in jail. The party was accused of rigging public tenders in exchange for commission to illegally finance itself. The money was transferred through false concert hall donations. CDC governed Catalonia for more than 20 years, with Jordi Pujol as president (1980 to 2003). His successor was Artur Mas, who was president from 2010 to early 2016, and who relaunched the party as PDeCAT in 2016. Precisely because of a lack of support from left-wing MPs in Parliament, which rejected swearing him in as president in 2016, Mas made way for Carles Puigdemont to become president of Catalonia. Mas stepped down as leader of the PDeCAT last week.
What is the 'Palau case'
The ‘Palau Case’ included 16 defendants but implicated two men in particular, Fèlix Millet and Jordi Montull. While the trial ended in June 2017 after half a hundred sessions, it’s only now, seven months later, that the sentencing has been announced.
What has become known as the ‘Palau Case’ began in the early 2000s, when anonymous reports were made to the Catalan Tax Agency about irregularities in the finances of various Catalan cultural institutions, including the Palau de la Musica concert hall, the Orfeó Català choral society and the Consorci del Palau, the public entity that manages the institution.
After the unprecedented sight of Mossos d’Esquadra police entering the modernist concert hall, in 2009 the head of the Palau Foundation Fèlix Millet, and Jordi Montull, publicly admitted they had diverted funds from the cultural entity into their own bank accounts. Weeks later, they were summoned to court charged with misuse of public funds, falsification of documents, money laundering, and tax fraud, among other offenses.
Palau de la Música officials' confession
Both Millet and Montull confessed to using the funds for their private expenses, such as home renovations, household appliances, family trips and even Millet’s daughter’s wedding. They did so through falsifying invoices and withdrawing cash from the fund’s account in anything from checks to gold bars.
CDC party ordered to repay 6.6 million euros
By 2010, information had surfaced pointing to a possible transfer of money from the Palau to the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia political party (CDC) to irregularly finance the organization, turning the case into a political scandal. The party was accused of rigging public tenders in exchange for commission from the winning companies so as to illegally finance itself. The party treasurer was sentenced to 4 years and 5 months in prison, while the CDC party has to repay 6.6 million euros. Yet, the sentence absolved the main officials from Ferrovial, the main firm suspected of having taken part in the scheme.