Spain’s Court of Auditors is claiming 5.4 million euros from 40 former Catalan government officials for allegedly promoting Catalonia’s right to self-determination abroad over the past decade.
Former Catalan president Artur Mas and former finance minister Andreu Mas-Colell face a 2.8-million euro claim, accounting for the public funds allegedly spent from 2011 to 2016. Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and former vice president Oriol Junqueras must pay 1.9 million euros for funds spent between 2016 and 2017, when Catalonia held a referendum deemed as illegal and declared independence.
In all, some 40 former officials are under investigation, including some of the politicians who spent more than three years in prison for their role during the referendum bid and who were pardoned last week by the Spanish government, like Junqueras.
The Court of Auditors has scrutinized the public funds spent by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT), a semipublic consortium aimed at fostering Catalonia’s interests abroad, and which encompasses the Catalan government, local and regional authorities, trade unions, universities, and even FC Barcelona. The former secretary-general of Diplocat, Albert Royo, faces a €3.63 million claim from the Court of Auditors, more than any other defendant.
The second-largest fine (€3.16m) goes to Mireia Vidal, who served as the auditor general of the Catalan government from 2011 to 2016, and was tasked with monitoring public spending. The court also wants former Catalan officials to repay large sums allegedly spent on the network of government offices abroad, with hundreds of thousands of euros linked to the so-called delegations in France, the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom, among others.
Both Diplocat and most government offices abroad were shut down by Spanish authorities in the fall of 2017, being deemed propaganda tools. They reopened in 2018 when pro-independence parties regained control of the Catalan government. Other politicians being requested to pay large sums of money include former presidency minister Francesc Homs, fined €2.9 millions, and former foreign action minister Raül Romeva, who is being held accountable for €2.1 millions worth of public money.
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