The Catalan Institute of Finance (ICF) has delivered the required guarantees to the lawyers of 29 former Catalan government officials who have taken advantage of the current government's plan to use its Complementary Risk Fund to cover the surety payments demanded by the Court of Accounts. These are individual guarantees that almost add up to the full 5.4 million euro sum asked for by the auditing supervisory body from all those it deems responsible for Catalan foreign policy expenditures between 2011 and 2017, which are being investigated. Four of the defendants in the matter have submitted their own guarantees.
Yesterday, the Court of Accounts rejected the request made by the Catalan economy minister, Jaume Giró, for 15 more days to formalize the guarantees. However, it agreed to give two more "non-extendable" days to complete the procedures.
Tough ICF meeting
The board of the ICF, Catalonia's public financial institution, approved the guarantees last night at a “tough” meeting, according to sources who were present. The decision was taken after tension between the two Catalan governing partners, ERC and Junts, who are still today making mutual accusations on who is responsible for having halted this route to pay the bonds, since the method of depending on the ICF to cover the amount was provided for in the Complementary Risk Fund decree law that the Catalan cabinet approved on 6th July.
This morning, in the corridors of Parliament, Giró insisted that there had been no change of mind by his ministry, but rather, that circumstances had changed.
The transfer of funds to the ICF from the Complementary Risk Fund - endowed with 10 million euros - was formalized last night. However, a notarial procedure was missing which prevented the proceedings from being completed before 12 midnight, the deadline imposed by the Spanish tribunal.
33 of the 34 affected
However, with the two days' extra time that was finally granted, those affected will be able to complete the procedures. The Court of Accounts asserted in accepting this short extension that the formal documentation presented for the payments, pending the formalization of the ICF decision, was a declaration but not the actual guarantees that were sought. The auditing tribunal also warned that if the proper documentation does not arrive within this extended period, assets will be seized.
The supervisory body confirmed that, in addition to the 29 members of the Catalan government who have accepted the ICF guarantees, four more have submitted their own guarantees - two have submitted bonds and two others have submitted assets. That covers 33 of the 34 people affected.
The next step will be for the Court of Accounts to decide whether to accept the ICF guarantees, which are backed by the Catalan government's decree law. In the next few days the decision of this body will be announced. This morning it ended up making a press statement denying that it had already initiated seizures of property due to the delay in submitting the guarantees.
The Court also recalled that the surety payments and asset seizures are interim measures until there is a final ruling, and that the aim is to ensure that any misuse of public funds is reimbursed to the public purse.
At the same time, next Thursday, it is expected that the Council of Statutory Guarantees - the Catalan government legal organ which advises on the constitutionality of new laws - will publish its report on the Complementary Risk Fund, and following that, the government's decree law will be ratified by the full Catalan Parliament.