Catalan Nationalists, “la Casta”, Face New Fraud and Corruption Investigation.
Anybody following Podemos knows that la casta, the political ‘caste’ is one of their key words.
It is not a novel concept. It was used in the twentieth century, but has now regained prominence. Both in Italy , where Beppe Grillo’s Movement Five Stars (Movimento Cinque Stelle) uses it often, as in Spain where Podemos has practically patented it since it’s erupted on the political scene, caste is defined simplistically and in Carl Schmitt’s terms, designates the enemy , which can be bankers, the old parties, the market or all at once. (Adapted from here).
The critical tone of this definition may well be true.
But nobody can deny that it refers to a reality, which will have a bearing on the debate in the lead up to the December General Elections in Spain.
The Catalan nationalists are portrayed sympathetically in Britain, above all by their friends in the ‘centre-left’ Scottish Nationalist Party, but even by some on the left, as hard-done-by freedom fighters against the Spanish ‘state’.
In fact the below indicates that they are one of the worst examples of the Spanish “political caste”- which amply justifies Podemos’ hostility to them.
We doubt if this trait is confined to Pujol’s Convergència Democrática de Catalunya (CDC)
Police search properties of Catalan ex-premier Pujol and three of his sons. 27th October. El Paìs.
Raid is related to money-laundering and fraud investigation into eldest son of the family.
The Spanish National Police on Tuesday raided the homes of former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol and three of his seven children in connection with a criminal investigation into tax fraud and money laundering.
Officers searched the personal residences of Pujol and of his sons Jordi Pujol Ferrusola (Junior), Josep and Pere after securing a warrant from High Court judge José de la Mata, sources familiar with the investigation told EL PAÍS. Several business premises are also being searched.
The raids are part of an investigation into the former premier’s eldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, also known as Junior, who is believed to have benefited from his father’s position of power through lucrative contracts from the regional government.
The reason officers raided Pujol senior’s home on Tuesday was that his eldest son is temporarily living there to recover from a recent surgery, explained the same sources, adding that only the son’s bedroom is being searched.
But this Madrid-led investigation is tied to another ongoing probe into the origin of the Pujol family fortune.
In January, the Pujol patriarch testified in a Barcelona court and told the judge that the millions of euros his family kept in Andorra and Switzerland were an inheritance received from his own father, Florenci.
Political corruption is the origin of the fortune amassed over the years by the eldest son of long-serving former Catalan regional premier Jordi Pujol, according to the police.
Jordi Pujol Ferrusola has been targeted by investigators for over a yearafter a former girlfriend told the police that he often travelled to Andorra and returned with bags full of €500 notes.
The new report links Pujol Ferrusola’s highly successful business ventures to “political initiatives by people within his most intimate circle,” an apparent reference to his father, Jordi Pujol.
Pujol senior, 84, was in power for 23 years, and was head of the nationalist party Convergència Democrática de Catalunya (CDC), one half of the CiU bloc that rules the region. He was Catalonia’s most renowned leader and is considered a father of Catalan nationalism.
Pujol Ferrusola reportedly received lucrative contracts from the regional government of Catalonia
But on Saturday, the legend sustained a severe blow when Pujol admitted in a letter that he has kept a fortune in tax havens for 34 years, and has only recently settled his dues with the Tax Agency.
Critics say that Pujol has now confessed in an attempt to take the heat away from his seven children, two of whom have been investigated for questionable business practices. In the letter, Pujol claimed that it was his own father, Florenci Pujol, who made a fortune and passed it on to his grandchildren in 1980. This, then, would explain the large amounts of money handled by Pujol Ferrusola.
But the police are working with a different hypothesis, and their conclusion is that the eldest son’s fortune “cannot be explained by income from the legal economy.” The report says that Ferrulosa “benefited indirectly” from an environment that “generated a network of influences” that reached all the way to “regional agencies.”
Pujol Ferrusola reportedly received lucrative contracts from the regional government. In 1991, Natural Stone, a firm specializing in quarry rock, won a €600,000 contract to supply marble for the floors at Barcelona’s El Prat airport. Pujol Ferrusola and his then wife Mercè Gironés were, respectively, vice-president and administrator at an affiliate, Natural Stone Marketing Centre.
And then there is Active Translation, a translation company-turned-real estate administrator. In 2004, Pujol’s brother-in-law Ramon Gironès became the sole manager of the firm. A short time later, Active Translation sold its shares in another company, Gestió i Recuperació de Serveis, for nearly €5.3 million. The sale is suspect because Gestió’s assets were worth only €350,000 in 2002. Investigators believe the case may be linked to a public bid for a contract that was won by Gestió in 2002, when Pujol Ferrusola was still a shareholder.
In another case, Pujo Ferrusola and his wife bought two countryside properties in 2002 for €217,000, and sold them four years later for €4.8 million. A month later, the land was rezoned by the city of Palamós to allow residential building.
Meanwhile, his brother Oriol Pujol has also been investigated for bid fixing for ITV vehicle inspection stations in Catalonia.
The Catalan version has a whole section, Diners a paradisos fiscals – money in tax havens.
The Tendance is fond of the expression “paradis fiscal” (the French version) – fiscal paradise.
One suspects that Catalan nationalism likes to think it’s in political paradise these days.
Let’s hope this latest episode in a long saga halts their ambition to cut off subsidies to the ‘lazy’ Southern Spanish people, and let the most prosperous section of Spain keep all its ‘own’ money.