Spain's National Court sends former president Jordi Pujol to trial

His seven children and ten businesspeople will also face court for the alleged corruption scandal affecting his whole family

Photo of Jordi Pujol arriving at the Les Corts mortuary in Barcelona on October 7, 2018 (by Carola López)
Photo of Jordi Pujol arriving at the Les Corts mortuary in Barcelona on October 7, 2018 (by Carola López) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 16, 2021 02:05 PM

The longest-serving Catalan president in modern times, Jordi Pujol, will face trial for the alleged corruption case affecting him and his whole family.

Spain's National Court announced the news on Wednesday, also confirming that his seven children and ten businesspeople will also be be tried.

The court requested a €7.5 million bail for his son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, for a potential civil liability fine. His former wife, Mercè Gironès, will also be brought to trial for the same case.

The clan has been accused of unlawful assembly, money laundering, crimes against the tax office and forging documents.

All of them will remain free during the sessions, and their defenses have been given a month to hand in their arguments in writing with the proposed outcome of the trial.

Spain’s National Court indicted Pujol and his relatives in April, including his wife Marta Ferrusola and their seven children. Charges against Ferrusola were later dropped for health reasons.

Public prosecutor and solicitor general requested convictions

The public prosecutor requested in early May that the former Catalan president serve a 9-year prison sentence for money laundering and unlawful assembly. Pujol's eldest son was requested a 29-year sentence for forging documents, crimes against the tax office from 2007 to 2010 as well as in 2012, as well as an attempted offense, organized crime, and money laundering. 

The public prosecutor requested 17 years behind bars for Gironès, 14 for Josep Pujol Ferrusola and 8 for each of his remaining siblings: Pere, Oleguer, Oriol, Mireia, and Marta. 

As for the solicitor general, representing the Spanish government, on Tuesday a 25-year prison sentence was requested for former Catalan president Jordi Pujol's eldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, with accusations for five tax crimes and a request for €7.7 million for civil liability.

Gironès was presented with a 17-year conviction, while Josep Pujol Ferrusola, another son of the politician, wil face a four and a half year sentence from the solicitor general.

Yet, neither the longest-serving Catalan head of government in modern times nor any other family member have been accused by this same party for the corruption case ongoing since July 2014, when the former president admitted to his family having money abroad which was undeclared in Spain's tax office.

Family "took advantage" of Pujol's position

In July 2020, the judge that led the investigation in Spain's National Court, José de la Mata, said he believed the family formed a criminal organization and, in a 509-page document, concluded that there was no solid evidence to prove that the Pujols' wealth came from inheriting his grandfather's, banker Florenci Pujol, fortune, as the former politician had originally claimed in July 2014. 

The April 20 indictment stated the family behaved as an illicit association or criminal organization due to their coordinated actions including simultaneously opening and closing bank accounts abroad as well as transferring funds between them in a strategy aimed at concealing the origin of the funds.

The court said that the family "took advantage of Pujol's position at the head of the Catalan government from which they obtained significant economic returns, which were deposited in bank accounts abroad and subjected to various transfers and transmissions, to hide their illicit origin."

Tainted political legacy

Jordi Pujol, aged 90, was the longest-serving president in Catalonia’s democratic history, but his mammoth political legacy was tainted by subsequent corruption scandals.

First appointed president in 1980, Pujol was reelected in five consecutive elections and ruled uninterrupted until 2003, leading Catalonia through Spain's democratic transition into the new millennium.

Pujol was also the founder of Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC), for years Catalonia’s hegemonic center-right party, until corruption scandals and tensions caused by the independence bid led to its dissolution, with its offspring dispersed between Junts per Catalunya and PDeCAT parties, among others.