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
Tuesday 29 July 2014
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.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Striker's four-month ban for biting an opponent expires on Friday
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reading are...
competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM - A high q...
competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...