Former Catalan president Jordi Pujol, in May this year. :: AFP
Former President of Catalonia Jordi Pujol, 84, announced this week that he has had money in tax havens for more than three decades. He said that the funds came from his father’s inheritance that he received in 1980. However, he said never found the time to declare its existence.
Police do not believe the statement and suspect that Pujol amassed a sum of 135 million euros in accounts mainly in Switzerland through numerous shady business deals.
Pujol explained that he initially put the money in the care of “a person of the highest trust”, whom he didn’t identity, until his children were old enough to receive it. This person passed on these funds to one of his sons or daughters - he didn’t say which one. “It was at this moment that my original error contaminated my family,” he said.
“I never found the right time to legalise this inheritance,” he added. The former politician apologised to those “who may feel disappointed” by his conduct and he hoped that the statement would serve as an “atonement”.
Police investigations have found 135 million euros deposited in banks in Switzerland and Liechtenstein with offshoots in Andorra, Argentina, Croatia, Gabon, Uruguay, United States, Mexico, the Cayman Islands and France. According to police, it is an amount that was amassed from illegal contracts made during his time as Catalan President as well as the business dealings of his son Jordi Pujol Ferrusola.
Pujol junior has been surrounded by corruption allegations for over a year. His former partner told police that on numerous occasions he travelled to Andorra with suitcases filled with 500 euro notes to be deposited in banks.
When Pujol senior was head of the Catalan government his son’s company Natural Stone won a 600,000 contract to build the marble floors at Barcelona’s El Prat airport.
A founding member and honorary chairman of the Catalan CDC party, Pujol will now be stripped of his privileges as well as his of annual pension of over 80,000 euros.
The decision was announced by current Catalan president Artur Mas who said it was made “with pity, grief and compassion”.