Corruption

Ex-Catalan party chief Oriol Pujol denies receiving backhanders

Son of Jordi Pujol tells parliamentary investigators he will not discuss family inheritance

Oriol Pujol, during Monday's session in the Catalan parliament.
Oriol Pujol, during Monday's session in the Catalan parliament.Consuelo Bautista

Oriol Pujol Ferrusola, the former secretary general of Convergència Democràtica (CDC) and son of former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol, told regional lawmakers on Monday allegations that he had charged commissions in exchange for political favors were false.

During a three-hour appearance before an investigative committee in the Catalan parliament, Pujol also claimed that he has never had to straighten out any tax problems with the authorities, and denied having held offshore bank accounts.

Oriol was called to testify about an alleged bid-fixing scheme for ITV vehicle inspection stations in Catalonia

Pujol Ferrusola, who is being investigated in the courts for allegedly receiving backhanders, also declined to comment on the recent scandal surrounding a multi-million-euro inheritance that his grandfather Florenci reportedly left the family after he died in 1980. He said that he wouldn’t talk publicly about the claims because his father, mother and four siblings are under a court investigation concerning the origins of the fortune.

The inheritance has been the subject of intense scrutiny ever since Jordi Pujol, the former Catalan premier, acknowledged in a public letter last July that his father held bank accounts in Andorra and Switzerland. He released the letter the same day that the Pujol family regularized its situation with the tax authorities.

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In January, the 84-year-old patriarch testified in court that he had wanted to completely wash his hands of the alleged inheritance. The money was made by his father in black market currency transactions during the Franco regime and was stashed away in offshore accounts. The inheritance, he told the court, was left to his wife María Ferrusola and his seven children, but he explained that he had no documents to back up this claim. Weeks later, the founder of Convergència insisted before a session of the Catalan parliament that none of the money had come from public funds.

His son Oriol was called to testify on Monday on allegations tied to an ongoing court investigation into bid fixing for ITV vehicle inspection stations in Catalonia.

Despite police reports that put him at the center of the ITV scheme, Oriol Pujol said that “no one will ever find in the court record words that I said that put into doubt my responsibilities.”

Nevertheless, investigators have at least 38 surveillance recordings and about a hundred messages to support their allegations that the former CDC leader was acting as an intermediary for his businessman friend Sergi Alsina.

Prosecutors said that Pujol received €46,400 in commissions through his wife who performed work for Alsina’s business, Alta Partners. Pujol defended his wife, saying she has worked as a lawyer and economist since 2000.

His younger brother, Oleguer Pujol Ferrusola, was arrested in October suspected of money laundering and tax fraud related to multi-million-euro investments he may have made in Spain and abroad using money located in tax havens.

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