Ruling Catalan party says prosecutor wants “to influence regional election”

CDC official insists group has nothing to hide from anti-corruption investigators

Catalan premier Artur Mas (left) and Junts pel Sí candidate Raül Romeva.
Catalan premier Artur Mas (left) and Junts pel Sí candidate Raül Romeva.Albert García

Friday’s police raid against a foundation affiliated to Catalonia’s ruling Democratic Convergence party (CDC) has elicited numerous reactions from politicians of all stripes.

CDC’s general coordinator, Josep Rull, sought to link the anticorruption attorney’s action to the upcoming Catalan elections, which could conceivably lead to a declaration of independence if the secessionist bloc Junts pel Sí – of which CDC is a part – wins a majority on September 27.

“Ever since the November 9 consultation we already know how the Attorney’s Office acts, and on whose orders,” he said, making a reference to last year’s informal referendum on independence, which the Madrid central government battled in the courts.

The best way to prevent corruption from being used against you is not stealing in the first place”

Albano Dante Fachín, Catalunya Sí es que Pot candidate

Rull’s words seemed to suggest that pressure from the conservative Popular Party-run central administration might be behind this latest probe into political corruption in Catalonia.

“They will find nothing because there is nothing to hide,” insisted Rull. “The point of all this is to influence the election campaign.”

But the Friday raid is just the latest in a long investigation into alleged corrupt practices within the CDC, which has ruled the northeastern region almost uninterruptedly since 1980 in partnership with Democratic Union (UDC). The resulting coalition, CiU, broke up earlier this year as a result of disagreements over the issue of independence, which UDC does not support.

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These practices include the payment of kickbacks to government officials by companies wishing to secure public contracts. The courts are investigating several cases in which firms allegedly paid around three percent of the contract’s value in order to obtain the project.

Raül Romeva, the top candidate for Junts pel Sí – the bloc that includes CDC, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and other pro-independence groups – offered a tough stance against corruption in remarks to regional television station TV-3.

Romeva demanded “transparency and clarity” with regard to the investigation, and underscored that one of his main goals if elected would be to “fight against corruption and to pull out all these problems by the root.”

Albano Dante Fachín, of Catalunya Sí es que Pot, has criticized CDC over its alleged corrupt practices.
Albano Dante Fachín, of Catalunya Sí es que Pot, has criticized CDC over its alleged corrupt practices.Gianluca Battista

But Albano Dante Fachín, candidate for Catalunya Sí es que Pot, a left-wing bloc that is also running in the September 27 election, ironically noted in an online message that “the best way to prevent corruption from being used against you is not to steal in the first place.”

Meawnwhile, Jaime Gelada, the PP spokesman in the city of Cardedeu, tweeted in a similarly humorous vein that the name Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) should be changed to “Junts pel 3,” reflecting the three-percent kickbacks allegedly accepted by CDC officials in exchange for awarding contracts.

English version by Susana Urra

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