Read in Catalan

The then-prime minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, was no stranger to the actions carried out in Operation Catalonia. This is confirmed by new documents and audios to which has had access regarding the persecution to which Catalan politicians and businesspeople (including FC Barcelona executives) were subjected, involving the use of public resources, to combat Catalonia's independence movement. In addition, this information, confirmed by witnesses who were part of the operation, shows that the interior minister, Jorge Fernández Diaz, and Rajoy himself ordered the launch of Operation Catalonia in September 2012, just after the massive Diada pro-independence rally and after the then-president of Catalonia Artur Mas unsuccessfully asked the Spanish government for a new taxation regime for Catalonia.

Operation Catalonia consisted of espionage against politicians and businesspeople without judicial authorization and with actions in parallel to those carried out by Spain's secret service, the National Intelligence Centre (CNI). This is confirmed by thirty informational memoranda from the Spanish police between 2012 and 2014, which went directly to the senior leadership of the interior ministry. Police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo informed the then undersecretary for security, Francisco Martínez, right-hand man of the minister Fernández Díaz, of the illicit investigations they were carrying out against Catalan politicians, with payments to informants, according to the conversations recorded by the police. These memos were circulated through different offices of the People's Party (PP) government. The minister Fernández Díaz received them and he sent them to prime minister Rajoy, as has been able to confirm from sources involved in these actions. They are complete documents and audios. Without any legal basis they incriminated two presidents of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol and Artur Mas. Both, leaders of Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC), the party which was dissolved in July 2016.

The involvement of the PP

The proof that the police offensive against politicians and businesspeople supporting the independence of Catalonia was carried out with the involvement of the political leaders of the PP, is demonstrated by one of the many audios that former police commissioner Villarejo recorded when he interviewed the then-undersecretary for Security, Francisco Martínez, on March 14th, 2014. The newspaper Público first broadcast part of this audio in October 2021, and it focused on how Villarejo informed him that prime minister Mariano Rajoy  - referred to in the conversation as el barbas ("the beard") or el asturiano ("the Asturian") - had given him a free hand to investigate and control the information that PP ex-treasurer Luis Bárcenas had, and announced that he would write him "a memo about the CNI's control of [judges] so that there would be no repeat of Gürtel [massive PP corruption case]”.

Now, has accessed the complete recording and verified that Operation Catalonia was underway. Specifically, when Martínez asks him about another case, Villarejo apologizes and replies: “We are also [working] on the other issue of the Catalans and all that; we have a group we can trust..." At another point in the conversation, he criticizes commissioner Marcelino Martin Blas, head of internal police affairs for pushing forward an investigation asked for by prosecutor José Grinda of a group of policemen who allegedly took part in a Chinese fraud plot, behind the back of judge Fernando Andreu, in the so-called Emperador case. Villarejo states that when he relayed his complaint directly to Marcelino: “I saw [him] looking very uncomfortable and he immediately brought up the things they are doing in Andorra, the manoeuvres and the data that M [Marcelino] is getting. And he said that that was going very well, and I told them: that's good, but we shouldn't shoot ourselves in the foot", referring to the investigation by that police officer himself. It is a statement that has not been published till now.


Pedophilia accusation against Grinda

In this conversation with the undersecretary, ex-commissioner Villarejo even accuses prosecutor Grinda of pedophilia. There was a court case against the prosecutor that was closed because Grinda claimed that he did not know that the girl he had contacted was a minor. Villarejo is angry with the prosecutor because he made Martín Blas open a police investigation into the Emperador case, which included his own son:

Villarejo: “Marcelino was very nervous and is very ignorant. Everyone knows that court summaries are serious business and that you can't do a parallel investigation just because the prosecutor says so. And the thing is, Grinda asked him verbally".
Martínez: “And does your son appear in that report they made?”
Villarejo: “Yes, in the big report, and the son of Carlos [another policeman]. Completely crazy."
Martínez: "Look how dodgy Grinda is, saying that the [police] internal affairs department brought him a complaint against fellow officers, while [organized crime unit] Udico has said that there is nothing."

During the conversation, both lower their voices, and the ex-commissioner states that "he has spoken to many people and that, apart from being warped, Grinda has no evidence and loses almost everything", and Martínez replies: "He is technically poor. " The ex-commissioner asserts: "I have Eugenio's permission (referring to Eugenio Pino, then deputy operational director (DAO) of the Spanish National Police) and I'll be going to Galicia to get this pedophilia thing out of this guy. You have my blessing, he said. And he details: "This son of a bitch who is allowed to play games, with all that is happening."

Andorran bank BPA, "forced and obliged"

The first action taken by this political police squad outside Spain was in Andorra. A group of police officers - who were later known to have been led by commissioner Marcelino Martín Blas (referred to as Félix), with inspector Celestino Barroso, interior ministry attaché at the Spanish Embassy in Andorra - illegally managed to access information on the accounts of the Pujol Ferrusola family in the Banca Privada d'Andorra (BPA). The police memo, dated July 1st, 2014, admits this: "Part of this information, although in a way that was forced and obliged by the circumstances, was provided by the BPA officials themselves who, fearful of the possibility of losing the licence to operate in Spain as a private bank through the Banco Madrid brand, chose to agree to cooperate with the Spanish judicial and fiscal authorities." The memo shows a screenshot of the accounts of Marta Ferrusola - wife of ex-president Jordi Pujol - and her children Marta, Mireia, Pere and Oleguer, who were also holders of the accounts, and it specifies that they made eleven deposits with a total value of 3.4 million euros between the years 2011 and 2012. At that time, the only investigation open was that of a National Audience judge who was investigating the business of the oldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, in a case opened in 2012. Not the family.

The fake Falciani memo

The patriotic police even falsified a police memorandum in November 2012 which claims that famous banking whistleblower Hervé Falciani's list of tax evaders at the HSBC bank included Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, whom they claimed had a company that dealt in marble. There were Spanish newspapers that took the bait with false information like this - and published it.


The case of the Andorran bank, BPA, is an investigation without judicial authorization, a fact that is admitted in the same memo: "Given the serious difficulties that the process of identifying the Pujols' accounts is creating, it would be advisable to continue with the contacts of those responsible for the BPA, in order to improve the until-now remiss attitude to collaboration so that specifics are provided on the volume that they have in the accounts." And it affirms: "Without being able to determine this volume yet, one of the officials already mentioned verbally in a veiled way that not even they could determine with total accuracy how much money is in their own names, even if recorded in the name of trustees, as well as how much one or more of Pujol's children have, even if it ultimately comes from external funds whose representation is assigned to them. In no case, in the BPA would the volume they hold be less than 500 million euros and if it referred to indirect funds, of around 1,500-1,800 million euros, of which the percentage level that they would have would be unknown."

All of this indicates the extent to which the police were pursuing this question based on speculation about the funds that the Pujol family might have in the BPA. The owners of the BPA, the brothers Higini and Ramon Cierco, have always denied having given this banking information.

The former Catalan president Jordi Pujol confessed that his family had undeclared money in Andorra, coming from an inheritance from his father Florenci, on July 25th, 2014, forced by the political police after the newspaper El Mundo published the screenshot of the BPA accounts on July 7th. This Spanish newspaper had already been used by the dirty tricks brigade to publish false reports from the UDEF economic crime unit of the National Police, one of which was not accepted in the Palau de la Música case by the prosecutor Emilio Sánchez Ulled or judge Josep Maria Pijuan, and which had as its objective to obtain a search of Convergència party headquarters, when there was already enough evidence and allegations of CDC kickbacks, as the party was convicted.

President Pujol's confession had the effect of whitewashing and legalizing the illegal investigations, and a judge from Barcelona then opened an investigation into the family, which on December 4th, 2015 was transferred to a judicial counterpart at the more senior National Audience court, which until then was only investigating the oldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola. With this change, the Andorran bank did officially agree to give the Pujols' bank details to the Spanish judge.

Two key audios

The police memos and the audios confirm that the Pujol Ferrusola family was illegally investigated after the famous lunch at Barcelona's La Camarga restaurant, at which the then-leader in Catalonia of the PP Alícia Sánchez-Camacho and the ex-partner of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, Vicky Álvarez, who, without knowing that she was being recorded, told her fellow diner of the supposed details of the money that the family was moving, and of accounts in Andorra. The meal took place on July 7th, 2010, and the recording was leaked in 2015. In fact, a conversation recorded by Villarejo, and revealed now, reveals that on June 26th, 2013, he informed the undersecretary for security about the hunt for information on the Pujols. He stated that they had information that "the Pujols are hiding the money in paintings in Andorra" and that it also involved Artur Mas and Convergència. Claims that were never proven.

When, a year after that, everything exploded and ex-president Pujol confessed that the family had undeclared money in Andorra, a new conversation on August 22nd, 2014, reveals Villarejo and Francisco Martínez getting angry at those who say that the work was done by the intelligence services, the CNI - a fact that confirms the authorship of the political police unit: "Now it is counted as their goal." It is in this conversation that Villarejo also asks for the renewal of his false identity with the name of Javier Hidalgo, as he is known to Álvarez and other hired confidants.

Currently, the Pujol Ferrusola family is awaiting trial for money laundering and illicit association. The business of the oldest son, acting as an intermediary between companies, is considered illegal by prosecutors. Neither Villarejo nor Vicky Álvarez are witnesses for the prosecution given the illegality of their actions.

Banks closed

The forced collaboration from the owners of the BPA, the brothers Ramón and Higini Cierco, did them no good. The  American authorities were alerted that the Andorran bank was suspected of money laundering, through a memo, which the holders of the BPA claim was manipulated by Spanish officials. BPA and its subsidiary, Banco Madrid, were then forced to close. Recently, the National Audience has rejected the claim that the Spanish government must compensate the owners for the closure of the bank, after it was clarified that they had not committed any irregularities; a resolution that the Ciercos have already announced they will appeal.

Villarejo and Congress

Police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, who is now retired and has had a first conviction for leading a police group in the pay of businesspeople and politicians and for trying to cover up illegalities of the PP (the Gürtel and Kitchen corruption cases), in addition to working against Podemos and against Catalan politicians, has insisted that his group were acting on behalf of PP leaders, with his claims supported by recordings of interviews held with party officials. That assertion is now ratified by the new documents, and confirmed by other sources in the operation. The new documents could bring substantial potential for new developments to the Operation Catalonia commission that is to be opened in the Congress of Deputies, after Together for Catalonia (Junts) extracted this commitment from the Socialists (PSOE) in the negotiations to allow Pedro Sánchez to form a new Spanish government. 

The commission held on the same subject in the Parliament of Catalonia did not end with any binding ruling on criminal or political responsibility; in addition, months later it was learned that the former Catalan PP leader Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, then a senator, had lied to the Catalan chamber when she assured that she knew nothing about the spying on Catalan businesspeople and politicians, after being heard in an audio asking Villarejo specifically to spy on the former Catalan economy minister Jaume Giró, who was then a director of the bank La Caixa. So far, however, no complaint by Catalan politicians and businesspeople spied on and falsely accused by Operation Catalonia has succeeded in the courts. This is the case of former Barça president Sandro Rosellas well as Giró, among others.

Pawns in Operation Catalonia

In the informative memos, Villarejo reveals that in Catalonia there are different people who helped them obtain information. The pawns cited are, among others, the then director of investigative agency Método 3, Francisco Marco (arrested in 2013 for recording the La Camarga lunch between Sánchez Camacho and Pujol's ex, with the case eventually shelved), and detectives from his agency; as well as the businessman Javier de la Rosa, who is said on audios to "always ask for money"; the director of the Catalan anti-fraud investigation unit, Daniel de Alfonso, and his right-hand man; and Vicky Álvarez, the ex-partner of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, who was also on the payroll of the Spanish state, until the PSOE cut that off in 2018, as has come to light recently.

The former police commissioner reproduces sarcastic comments from all of them, some even say that they have got close to ex-president Pujol. De Alfonso's disloyalty to Catalonia (as head of an independent watchdog body created by the Catalan government) was uncovered in an audio released in 2016, in a conversation he had with interior minister Fernández Díaz in October 2014. And despite the professional discredit, De Alfonso was able to resume his career as a judge, in this case in Cantabria, where he continues. Villarejo was arrested in November 2017 and has several criminal cases open, but none for having defamed Catalan politicians and businesspeople. Nor does the former minister interior Jorge Fernández Díaz, let alone the former prime minister Rajoy.

🔍 All of's reports (in Catalan) on the Operation Catalonia Papers investigation