Former Catalan premier Pujol will explain tax fraud in regional parliament

Decision comes after pressure from parties demanding transparency from nationalist leader

Jordi Pujol and his wife Marta Ferrusola at their residence in Queralbs (Girona).
Jordi Pujol and his wife Marta Ferrusola at their residence in Queralbs (Girona).PERE DURAN

Former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol, who has been engulfed in a tax-evasion scandal since July, has finally bowed to pressure to explain himself in the regional parliament.

Sources familiar with the situation told EL PAÍS that Pujol, who governed in the region for 23 years and is considered a founding father of modern Catalonia, will heed the calls of his own party, Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC), asking him to provide details of the fraud.

In an open letter published on July 25, the 84-year-old politician confessed to having kept an undeclared fortune of several million euros stashed abroad for 34 years. The revelation came on the same day that the Pujol family regularized its situation with the tax authorities.

But family lawyers are now seeking a criminal prosecution against the anonymous informant in Andorra who breached that country’s banking secrecy laws and made the accusation.

Relations between CDC and Pujol have seriously deteriorated in recent weeks

Pujol, who has renounced all his privileges as a former official – including his chauffeur, private office and pension – has arrived at “the personal conviction” that he must explain himself fully to Catalan society. Yet the decision has taken weeks, and been influenced by pressure from all political groups in the Catalan chamber.

Pro-sovereignty parties, in particular, want to ensure that the scandal does not affect the independence drive and the plebiscite scheduled for November 9. Opponents of independence quickly noted that after decades of hearing that “Spain is robbing Catalonia,” it turns out that a leading light of Catalan nationalism has been depriving the region of taxes.

Relations between CDC and Pujol, who founded the party in 1974, have seriously deteriorated in recent weeks, partly because of the revelation and partly because of the family’s obstructionist attitude. The Pujols want to stop any information about their funds abroad from reaching Spanish judges, and have asked Andorran authorities not to release any.

Meanwhile, Pujol’s eldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, is being investigated for money laundering. Another son, Oriol, was the target of an investigation into illegal contract awards.

Sources said that September 2 could be a likely date for Pujol’s appearance in the Catalan house.

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