The day after the Catalan independence referendum, so on 2nd October 2017, the Spanish state quietly removed the money public companies and authorities held in the two largest Catalan banks, Banc Sabadell and CaixaBank. As revealed by the newspaper Ara (in Catalan), the two banks saw huge amounts of money go out the door under political orders. That week would end with them moving their registered head offices out of Catalonia, after the Rajoy cabinet approved an executive order to make such moves easier.
Neither of the two banks has confirmed how much capital was withdrawn that day. Despite that, a manager claimed that between Renfe, Adif, the ports, RTVE and others, 2 billion euros (£1.8 billion; $2.3 billion) were removed from Sabadell in a single day. An executive says that "up to a third of the total deposits that left those days was money from public authorities and companies controlled by the state".
According to the sources consulted, Sabadell's managing director, Jaume Guardiola, spent the day calling the chairs of these public companies to find out the reason for the withdrawals. They replied they were following "political orders". This emptying of accounts stretched over several days.
The objective seemed clear. An executive spoke with the then Spanish economy minister, Luis de Guindos, after confirming that the administration had withdrawn its deposits. De Guindos replied: "Have you changed headquarters? Then don't worry". Within hours, the money was back in the accounts it had been taken from.
In total, according to Ara's sources, the total that left Sabadell could have reached 12 billion euros (£10.5 billion; $13.8 billion). In the case of CaixaBank, it was twice that. A third of this was withdrawn by the state itself.