22 May 2021
Court of Accounts, Prosecutor’s Office and Court n. 18 of Barcelona detect numerous irregularities and illegal expenses
Reports to prepare the break with Spain, awarding these reports by finger and dividing them so as not to have to call a tender and grant aid and subsidies without public concurrence and without any justification were, apparently, common currency in Diplocat, the “temple” of Catalan diplomacy. For this reason, the Prosecutor’s Office has denounced a handful of high-ranking officials of the Generalitat in court.
This procedure was maintained by the regional Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2011 to 2017, the dates audited by the Court of Accounts. The actions of this area of the Government are under suspicion because, in addition to not having evidence of how hundreds of thousands of euros were spent, it is suspected that many of the funds spent both by the structure of the Ministry and by agencies under its charge, such as Diplocat or the Catalan ’embassies’ were used to promote the procés and to promote the independence referendum of October 2017.
Hefty fine for Albert Royo
The Court of Accounts asks Alberto Royo, former secretary general of Diplocat, 4.5 million euros from that time to answer for the money that may have been diverted to acts in favor of the referendum or the procés.
The information for this complaint comes from a complete report of the Court of Accounts, of 758 pages, which studies in detail all the spending of the Generalitat abroad during the indicated stage. And it lists the actions of each of the departments involved. The prosecution compiled, for the moment, some of the actions under suspicion, all of them related in one way or another with the Diplocat, the body that deploys the external relations of the Government.
The Court of Auditors explains that Diplocat “has been used to open channels of contact with representatives of different Parliaments, both European and American. These relationships, under the format of appearances and institutional meetings, have been intended to explain and promptly update the information that occurred as a result of the development of the sovereign process. There have been a total of 25 appearances or meetings that have amounted to an amount of 112,237.04 euros ”.
In 2014, seven international electoral observation missions cost 133,582.66 euros. Another 23 activities inviting opinion leaders and foreign personalities to sell independence took 460,986 euros. In parallel, the International Visitors Program (PVI) had funds of 82,027.66 euros. The invitation program for foreign observers for October 1, 2017 cost 206,371.49 euros, accounted for under the generic name of “Analysis of the political context of Catalonia”.
In preparing documents and arguments, Diplocat spent 308,530.29 euros. And contacts with international media cost the treasury 86,088.79 euros. The maintenance of the Catalonia Votes website cost, on the other hand, 451,171.11 euros.
The International Diplomat contract
The hiring of the International Diplomat entity to seek international allies was paid, in part, by the Generalitat delegation in Washington, but Diplocat later signed an agreement for which it paid a total of 1,392,300 euros between 2013 and 2015. The reports produced by this company remain secret to this day.
The prosecution’s complaint, however, includes only a part of those expenses. Based on the indictment, Judge Carmen García, head of the examining court number 18 of Barcelona, decided to impute 10 high-ranking Government officials. They are Raül Romeva, Roger Albinyana, Roser Clavell, Albert Royo, Gerard Figueras, Víctor Cullell, Aleix Villatoro, Teresa Prohias, Manuel Vila and Antoni Reig. But those involved in the matter are more: figures of the stature of Salvador Cardús, Mònica Sabata, Jacint Jordana, or Alfonso González, as well as some businessmen who organized or participated in the assembly of the infrastructure of events, must appear in court as witnesses. in favor of the referendum.
It is, therefore, what would be part of the procés academic brigade, whose reports should serve to intellectually forge independence and act as a guide in the construction of the state structures necessary to start outside Spain.
Mònica Sabata will also declare
Mònica Sabata will go to court as president of the Federació d’Organitzacions Catalanes Internacionalment Reconegudes (FOCIR), a body that brings together a hundred entities and that received at least 565,000 euros in subsidies that, supposedly, are little justified. According to the judicial report, in February 2012, FOCIR received a direct subsidy of 50,000 euros “without specifying the destination, or following up on the subsidy, which was not publicized.” In addition, according to the judge’s order, it contravened the Diplocat statutes on granting aid. The architect of this aid was Roser Clavell, then Secretary General of Diplocat. The following year, the platform obtained 20,000 euros in aid, granted by Roger Albinyana, in his capacity as Secretary General for Foreign Affairs.
Between 2014 and 2016, the Secretary General of Diplocat, Albert Royo, awarded 100,000, 125,000 and 125,000 euros respectively “directly designating FOCIR as a collaborating entity in the selection of recipients, regardless of any public competition procedure, regardless of the statutory regulations and contravening the Finance Law of the Generalitat regarding the granting and control of subsidies ”. FOCIR’s mission was to prepare the bases by which Diplocat aid was obtained, establishing which were justifiable expenses and which were not, despite the fact that FOCIR itself or the entities that participate in it had direct aid from Diplocat, therefore It could be interpreted that there was a conflict of competences.
The order emphasizes that what FOCIR did was to include in the bases of the aid expenses that were not eligible “and the evaluation criteria for granting aid were not objective, since belonging to FOCIR prevailed to be a beneficiary of such aid.” In 2017, it was Raül Romeva himself and his general secretary, Aleix Villatoro, who granted another 40,000 euros to FOCIR “without justifying the reasons for the non-attendance”. But, in addition, in 2017 the Generalitat signed a special agreement with FOCIR, granting it a direct subsidy of 165,000 euros, of which Diplocat put 125,000 euros, another 20,000 euros came from the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD), led by Manuel Vila, and 20,000 euros more, from the Consell Català d’Esports (CCE), chaired by Gerard Figueras These contributions, apparently, “are outside the purposes of these entities.”
Especially suspicious was a study commissioned by Albert Royo to the Barcelona Institute for International Studies (IBEI), chaired by UPF professor Jacint Jordana. The commission was an academic study on the status that a region that became independent from a member state could have in the EU. The Catalan Administration ended up paying 196,920 euros for this study, granted “without promoting public participation.”
Another similar study, although less expensive, was carried out by the sociologist Salvador Cardús in 2015. In this case, the commission came from Víctor Cullell, general director of Analysis and Prospective of the Ministry of the Presidency, and Teresa Prohias, director of services of this department. The sociologist’s study was on “the different instruments of international cooperation between Spain and Catalonia, assuming that the latter achieved independence.” For this report, the Generalitat paid 13,636 euros more VAT and the judge warns in her order that “it exceeded the competence framework of the Generalitat and was indirectly aimed at the elaboration of the structures of a hypothetical independent state.”
Also in 2015 Albinyana and Prohias needed reports on the European Defense policy, which was possibly aimed at the creation of the “state structures” that the independentistas were trying to create in order to have lists at the time of the break with Spain. This study “was commissioned to a Belgian company for which data is unknown, with no documentation of the same or of the original work carried out. It was hired through the intermediation of Mr. Salvador Cardús. 5,000 euros were paid ”.
In the same way, Albinyana, Royo and Prohias commissioned that year two “doctrinal reports on multilateral treaties to which Spain is a party and on the procedures that a new State must follow in order to enter international organizations (examples, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia , Slovenia, Kosovo and Montenegro) ”. The reports were entrusted to Professor Alfonso González Buendía, from the URV. But since they exceeded 18,000 euros (from that amount it is mandatory to call a public tender), the work was divided into two contracts of 17,500 euros each (to which VAT must be added). This partition, according to the magistrate, “was made in order to avoid public participation, and aware that the issue was outside the competence framework of the Generalitat’s foreign action.” The judge does not stop there, but she adds that the reports “were overvalued, since they did not contain the mandatory conclusions, proposals and databases required at the time of hiring.”
The report of the Court of Auditors goes further in this section and states that two invoices were paid for 21,170 and 21,175 euros respectively. “The division prevented the mandatory authorization from the Government required in reports of more than 30,000 euros from having to be requested. Furthermore, in the case of the Diplocat contract, the report was not assessed to verify whether or not the payment proceeded ”.
In the investigation of court 18, however, there are actions that are not collected. For example, the Court of Auditors reveals that 120,000 euros were paid to a Foundation “whose main objective is the task of international knowledge and recognition of the Catalan nation and that publishes a magazine in English, with at least two of its members being editorial board of senior officials of the regional Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This magazine also received two other grants in 2016 and 2016 of 100,000 euros each and in 2017 it received 10,000 euros from Diplocat as payment for four articles that there is no evidence that they were sent by the entity and that no article with references to having been included in the magazine been sent by it, in addition to having been paid in advance by order of the secretary of Diplocat at the request of the director of the magazine to alleviate its liquidity problems ”. In these grants, supporting expenses were presented for an amount of more than 21,800 euros that should not have been accepted.