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The prestigious French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur has become the latest international voice to denounce the persecution being waged by Spain's Court of Accounts against the former Catalan economy minister Andreu Mas-Colell, from whom it could demand the payment of 10 million euros connected to Catalonia's unofficial 2014 consultation of the population on the independence question. The magazine offers very harsh words on the Spanish institution. "Kafka in Catalonia: trapped in a legal tangle, a great economist is threatened with ruin," it headlines. L'Obs asserts the action of the Court of Accounts is a Spanish anomaly.

"Economists around the world are in a state of shock: one of their own, and not one of the most obscure, is at risk of being ruined. He is caught in a political imbroglio that goes far beyond him and almost makes Kafka's The Trial read like a children's story. His fate will be decided at the end of the month, this Tuesday, June 29th. Meanwhile, the community is mobilizing: universities, central banks, hundreds of economists are supporting him, including 33 Nobel laureates (Angus Deaton, Esther Duflo, Paul Romer, Robert Shiller, Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Solow, Jean Tirole, etc.)", says the French magazine.

Le Nouvel Observateur

"Kafka in Catalonia: trapped in a legal tangle, a great economist is threatened with ruin" headlines Le Nouvel Observateur

Le Nouvel Observateur remarks that behind the attempt to ruin Mas Colell are political motivations. "Mas-Colell is accused of having validated expenses to prepare the [Catalan] self-determination referendum which was considered illegal," it explains. “Shock in the international economists' community,” it declares.

The magazine recalls that Mas-Colell is the author of one of the reference textbooks in microeconomics, and that he has been a professor at the University of Berkeley and Harvard. “Some of his colleagues put him on the list of Nobel nominees, for his pioneering work on the use of differential topology to fine-tune the theory of general equilibrium,” it notes.

Support from Germany

The piece in Le Nouvel Observateur follows the publication yesterday of an article on the former Catalan government minister by leading German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine. Under the headline "The Catalan conflict before the Spanish Court of Accounts", the German daily, which reaffirms the figure of Mas-Colell as an "internationally recognized" economist and professor, explains how he has "got caught up" in the persecution of the independence process, as well as describing the support he has received from 33 Nobel prizewinners and mentioning this week's Council of Europe resolution condemning Spain's pursuit of the pro-independence leaders.

"Next Tuesday, Andreu Mas-Colell could lose everything. Not only his fortune, but also his house and his pension”. Thus begins the Frankfurter article on the persecution of the former minister by the Spanish authorities. The article explains how Mas-Colell, "who taught at Harvard and Berkley Universities and then led the European Research Council," will appear before the Court of Accounts on June 29th  - his 77th birthday - together “with 38 other Catalans” to be told the amount of money they are each required to pay. According to the newspaper, the figure could reach ten million euros.

The article also explains how former Catalan presidents Artur Mas and Carles Puigdemont are also among those accused of allocating public funds to promote the independence of Catalonia between 2011 and 2017. "If they do not pay, their property may be confiscated in a few weeks," says the Frankfurter.