“I didn’t want to know anything about inheritance,” claims ex-Catalan chief

EL PAÍS gains access to extract of Jordi Pujol’s testimony in hidden fortune probe

Former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol and his wife, Marta Ferrusola, arrive to testify Tuesday before a Barcelona judge.
Former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol and his wife, Marta Ferrusola, arrive to testify Tuesday before a Barcelona judge.ALBERT GARCIA / EL PAÍS

Former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol on six occasions told the judge investigating the fortune he kept hidden in Andorra that he wanted to completely wash his hands of an alleged inheritance left him by his father.

EL PAÍS has obtained a brief summary of Jordi Pujol's testimony on Tuesday, which was recorded on video.

“I didn’t want to know anything about that inheritance,” he said four times, adding that he “wasn't aware of anything” and that he “absolutely distanced” himself from it.

The 84-year-old founder of the pro-independence Convergència party was subpoenaed along with his wife to testify on Tuesday before Barcelona Judge Beatriz Balfagon, who is investigating whether Pujol is telling the truth about the source of the wealth he kept in an account in Andorra. 

Two friends, now deceased, helped manage the accounts following Florenci Pujol’s death, he explained

Pujol told the judge that his father, Florenci, left the money not to him, but to his wife, María Ferrusola, and their seven children. He, his wife and five of his children are official targets of the investigation.

Two people – friends of the family who are now deceased – helped manage the accounts following Florenci Pujol’s death in 1980, he explained. Pujol said he saw the inheritance as “a nest egg” for his wife and family to “ensure” their future was secured.

The patriarch of one of the most powerful political families in Catalonia, Pujol also explained why his sister never knew about the inheritance, or was even aware that their father had made a fortune through alleged dollar exchange transactions during the Franco dictatorship.

It was because Florenci kept everything “a big secret,” Pujol said.

The anticorruption attorney investigating the case, Alejandro Luzón, has serious doubts about the origins of the money and has underscored the numerous “gaps and contradictions” in Pujol’s story about an undocumented inheritance.

Investigators suspect that the money may in fact have come from commissions paid out by companies to secure public contracts during Pujol’s long tenure as regional premier, from 1980 to 2003. Several of his children are already under investigation for suspicious business dealings.

Pujol’s 12 key answers

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These are the key 12 answers that form part of Pujol’s statement. The majority of the questions were asked by Judge Balfagon and answered by Pujol, who often refers to himself in the third person.

1. The confession in July. "It was convenient to be upfront with my children and explain the origins of the money that was outside of Spain." Answering a question from the prosecutor, Pujol added that he decided to go public by releasing a statement on July 25 because he wanted to let everyone know "that I was aware about the source of the money since the 1960s, that it was all legal, and I wanted to make that clear in the statement."

2. No interest in the inheritance. Pujol said he "didn"t know the name of the bank where the money was deposited" and also never knew "the name of the person who was registered" on the account. "I can"t give you any information about the account because from the beginning I didn"t want anything to do with it." Prosecutors have discovered that Pujol held at least €4 million at the Banca Privada de Andorra.

3. Florenci"s "big secret." The former Catalan premier told the prosecutor that he "didn"t feel disinherited" by his father Florenci Pujol"s decision to give the money to his wife and children, and that he had "rejected it" from the beginning. Pujol said that it was his father"s decision never to tell his sister about the inheritance. Florenci "amassed great wealth but it was gradually reduced because of successive crises. Therefore, my sister could not be given anything that had already been left to my wife and children."

4. Two deceased administrators. The money was allegedly managed by a friend of the father named Delfí Mateu, who died in 1993. Pujol said he never asked Mateu for any bookkeeping records because he "didn"t want to know anything" about the inheritance. Joaquim Pujol i Figa, a cousin of the former premier, briefly took over the accounts at Mateu"s request when the latter could no longer handle them because of his advanced age, Pujol explained. But the cousin declined to keep handling the accounts after a few months because he wanted to dedicate himself to serving as chief of staff in Pujol"s government.

5. Protecting his children from political controversy. "When my father died, some of the children were of legal age but I didn"t want them to handle the inheritance because of the political situation in Spain in 1980. So I waited until all the children reached legal age."

6. A family "nest egg." "The executor of the inheritance was the eldest son. He didn"t want to profit from the inheritance, but only to assure that there was a nest egg" for Pujol"s wife and children. Asked by the prosecutor, Pujol said he was unaware of any transfers made to the accounts from other countries.

7. "Independent" decisions about the money. Pujol said that he wasn"t aware how each of his children handled their share of the fortune. "Each one of them could do whatever they wanted with the money. I don"t know if that money is still abroad because I don"t want to have anything to do with it."

8. The Pujol children decided to legalize the money. Pujol said that he "didn"t know how much money there was or how it was split" in 1990. "The [July 2014] decision to settle with the tax agency was made by the children."

9. Fear of a media circus. Pujol said he "waited years to seek ways to legalize the money" because of the "negative publicity this could have, as has in fact been the case." "In 1980, times were different and I was scared."

10. Money from exchange rate transactions. The money "didn"t come from laundering, corruption, kickbacks or public funds," he insisted. "It came from the profits my father earned exchanging dollars in the 1950s and 1960s."

11. Foreign accounts. Pujol stated that he doesn"t hold and never held "a foreign bank account." "I never had an account in Liechtenstein and I have never received any notification from that country."

12. No documents to support the inheritance. "There is no document to support where the money was being kept in 1990." When Mateu turned over the accounts to Pujol i Figa, "there existed no documents on file." He told his children about their inheritance directly.

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