POLITICAL CORRUPTION

Former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol called to court over undeclared funds

Ex-politician named official suspect in investigation into fortune he kept hidden in Andorra

Jordi Pujol and his wife Marta Ferrusola.
Jordi Pujol and his wife Marta Ferrusola.PERE DURAN

The former regional premier of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, has been summoned to appear in court as an official suspect to explain the origins of his family fortune. His wife, Marta Ferrusola, and three of his children, Marta, Mireia and Pere, have also been asked to accompany him to answer questions before a judge on January 27, the Catalonia High Court announced on Tuesday.

A Barcelona magistrate has been investigating the Catalan ex-premier and his family since it emerged over the summer that Pujol held undeclared bank accounts in the principality of Andorra, in the Pyrenees. In a statement released by the former Catalan leader on July 25, he claimed that the funds – which had been hidden from the Spanish Tax Agency for 34 years – had come from an inheritance left to him by his father, Florenci Pujol.

The funds had been hidden from the Spanish Tax Agency for 34 years

But both the public prosecutor and the investigating judge have doubts about this version of the facts.

In her writ, to which EL PAÍS has had access, the judge states that she suspects that the former premier and his family may have committed two offenses: one against the Tax Agency, and another of money laundering. The court will focus solely on these two offenses, and on the five aforementioned official suspects. Other accusations made against Pujol by the obscure right-wing labor union Manos Limpias – misappropriation of public funds and accepting bribes – have for now been rejected by the courts on the basis that the facts related to accusations of political corruption “are not sufficiently concrete.”

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The judge stressed the need to “continue with the investigation” in order to clear up the facts, thus giving “the official suspects a chance to be heard.” The judge has offered the Solicitor General’s Office the opportunity to represent the Tax Agency in the probe.

Pujol’s wife, Marta Ferrusola, and their seven children regularized their tax situation on July 25, the same day that the former premier released a public letter explaining that he had amassed a fortune of more than €4 million and failed to declare it to the revenue service for 34 years.

Pujol’s confession saw him stripped of his privileges as a former premier

The confession caused a political outcry and Pujol, who led the region for 23 years and is considered one of the founding fathers of modern Catalan nationalism, was stripped of his privileges as a former premier, including his chauffeur, private office, hefty pension and the title of “Most Honorable.”

Another of Pujol’s sons, Oleguer, has also been named an official suspect in a separate investigation into money laundering and tax fraud. The High Court believes that he may have laundered funds through seven real estate deals. Pujol’s eldest son, Jordi, has also been named an official suspect by the same court for the same offense.

Meanwhile, his son Oriol, the only Pujol child to follow his father into politics, remains an official suspect in a case involving bid-rigging for ITV vehicle inspection stations in Catalonia.

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