Former Catalan President Jordi Pujol to be stripped of his titles after admitting to more than 30 years of tax fraud

The scandal comes at a time of deep economic hardship for many Spaniards

Madrid

One of the leaders of the Catalonian independence movement has been disgraced after it emerged that he hid a personal fortune from the Spanish taxman for three decades.

Jordi Pujol, the founding party chairman and honorary chairman, will be stripped of party privileges, including his pension and the office paid for by the Catalan nationalist party Convergencia i Unio (CiU).

The scandal, which comes at a time of deep economic hardship for many Spaniards, adds to a crisis of faith in politicians following the emergence of dozens of other corruption scandals in recent years.

The news is also an embarrassment for Artur Mas, current head of the Catalan regional government, who is due to meet Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday for the first time in more than a year. The two men will discuss a deadlock over a non-binding referendum on Catalonia’s status within – or beyond – Spain.

Catalonia has clashed with Madrid for scheduling the referendum on nationhood for November 9, raising hackles across the country. Madrid says the referendum is illegal and will not go ahead.

Mas, who announced that Pujol would be stripped of his titles, said the move caused him “great pain... Jordi Pujol has been my political father.”

Pujol is a hugely-respected individual who became a figurehead for Catalan nationalism after running the regional government from 1989 to 2003. He got considerable funding for the region during his tenure, in return for the parliamentary support of successive minority Madrid governments on left and right after the end of the Franco dictatorship.

He admitted to concealing large sums of money in secret foreign bank accounts, and to failing to declare the money to tax authorities “over a period of more than 30 years.” Media say the amount may run into hundreds of millions of euros, although Pujol has yet to provide a figure.

The 84 year old apologised and said he was willing “to appear before tax authorities, or if needed, judicial authorities,” to explain matters, according to a statement released Friday.

Local media said the scandal was made public ahead of the more embarrassing possibility of an investigation being announced by judicial authorities. Many Spaniards expressed their contempt on Saturday, especially because Pujol had for months denied having any money stashed outside Spain.

The revelation comes after questions arose in January last year, when several members of Pujol’s family were required by Spain’s Fraud Inspection Office to reveal information relating to their financial affairs.

Two of Pujol’s sons, both politicians, are also being investigated by judges for corruption and influence-trafficking.

The crackdown down on tax fraud in an attempt to whittle down Spain’s public deficit will bring another well-known face to court, it emerged on Monday. Barcelona and Argentina soccer-player, Lionel Messi, is accused of hiding 4.1 million euros from tax authorities.

Meanwhile, the new Spanish king, Felipe VI, has announced measures to ensure Spain’s royal palace accounts will be subject to external audits, with the results made public in an apparent bid to clean up the royal family’s tarnished image.

A Palace statement, released today, stated that the measures include plans for a new code of good conduct, a ban on immediate royal family members working outside the Palace and greater control of gifts received by the royal family.

Reuters

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam