Operation Catalonia not only involved police officers and resources from the Spanish interior ministry. The economy and treasury ministry in the People's Party(PP) government of the day seems to have also made use of its official organisms to maintain the unity of Spain. This is demonstrated by a communication from the Executive Service of the Commission for Prevention of Money Laundering and Monetary Infractions (SEPBLAC) from 2014, which conveys false information to its colleagues in Liechtenstein, according to evidence obtained now by ElNacional.cat.
Until now, the police briefing memos and audios recorded by police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo between 2013 and 2014 show that the interior ministry, led by Jorge Fernández Díaz, organized police persecution of Catalan independence politicians and businessmen, in addition to its checks on rival parties in Madrid and espionage against the ex-treasurer of the PP, Luis Bárcenas, which is why the prosecutors are demanding 15 years in prison for the PP minister. But the new revelation in this current document is that resources from the treasury ministry, led by Cristóbal Montoro, were also used in this dirty war.
Digging for dirt on Pujol and Mas
In particular, the SEPBLAC was not at all rigorous when it responded to a query from its counterparts from the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) of Liechtenstein, made on September 17th, 2014, according to an email. The body in the Alpine microstate - which offers tax advantages - asked the Spanish organism whether "through public sources" it had become aware that "the Brantridge Establishment company could have been used by the Pujol family for its illegal activities". He added that Jordi Pujol Soley (the ex-president), Jordi Pujol Ferrusola (his son) and Artur Mas, then president of Catalonia, were mentioned in these media. It detailed that this company existed from May 2005 to March 21st, 2014, when it was dissolved, and asked to know if the company was the subject of an investigation by the Spanish authorities in order to take action. The consultation took place a month after the confession of former president Pujol, and the publication of false reports by the Spanish police's economic crime unit, UDEF, especially in the Spanish media.
With no legal basis
The response given by the cooperation area of SEPBLAC is very grave. This Spanish financial intelligence unit, which depends on a collegiate body directed by the economy and treasury ministries - at the time headed by Cristóbal Montoro - maintained that SEPBLAC had been investigating former president Pujol and his first-born "since 2013", even though in that period it had never transferred any suspicion or evidence to Spanish judicial authorities. "They have been the subject of SEPBLAC's analysis as a result of reports of suspicious operations", it specifies.
And the Spanish organism directly entangles its European counterpart when it asserts that "as indicated in a series of press releases, the members of the Pujol family are the subject of an ongoing investigation into money laundering and corruption led by the National Audience court. It has been confirmed through police sources that Brantridge Establishment is part of the mentioned investigation”.
In September 2014, when SEPBLAC gave this response, the National Audience was only investigating Jordi Pujol Ferrusola and his ex-wife (indicted in February 2014), following the complaint made in 2013 by ex-girlfriend Vicky Álvarez, who was accompanied by Villarejo to testify before Judge Pablo Ruz, who did not give her much credibility due to her vague statements. Ruz was replaced by another National Audience judge, José de la Mata, who finally, with the confession of ex-president Pujol, assumed the case against the entire Pujol Ferrussola family in December 2015, which a few months before had been in the hands of Barcelona judge. Does this information show that the interior and treasury ministries were coordinated in their work on Operation Catalonia? Or was it all about a group of corrupt policemen who paid the highest bidder, as has been said?
In the case against the Pujol Ferrusola family - which in 2024 is pending trial for illicit association, money laundering, document falsification and crimes against the Treasury - it has been clarified that in 2009 Jordi Pujol Ferrusola was the manager of the English company Brantridge Holdings Limited at an Irish bank, and managed by a trustee, who - this much, yes - was the owner of a company in Liechtenstein. Nothing more.
Defamation not repaired
The SEPBLAC goes into chapter and verse in its response to the FIU Liechtenstein and adds for good measure that the then president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, was being officially investigated. "This is a very relevant and notorious case in our country. Therefore, any information you may have about Brantridge, such as the identity of its beneficiary, owners, any links to Artur Mas or any of the Pujol family members and any details about the main transactions recorded in their bank accounts, would be much appreciated. In addition, we request your authorization to share your information with the competent Spanish judicial and police authorities." Finally, it informs them that "the information provided is solely for intelligence purposes and must not be disseminated". None of this was officially tested or investigated.
None of the defamation against Catalan president Artur Mas has ever been admitted or rectified. Mas was punished for having promoted and maintained the 2014 informal consultation on the political future of Catalonia, held on November 9th, 2014, despite it having been suspended by an injunction. He was also convicted of disobedience of the Constitutional Court.
Nor has the then-mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias (CDC/Junts), been redressed. In regard to Trias, it was also published, in October 2014, that he had a bank account in Switzerland, a claim totally denied by all of the country's banks, but that left him electorally damaged and in the June 2015 municipal elections, Ada Colau (Barcelona en Comú), beat him on election day and took over the mayoralty of the Catalan capital.
Taking part in the cases
In fact, a conversation recorded by commissioner Villarejo with the-then undersecretary for Security, Francisco Martínez, on August 22nd, 2014, to which ElNacional.cat has had access, reveals that not only were they carrying out illegal investigations, but that they also took part in court cases, through associations conducting private prosecutions such as Manos Limpias, to obtain first-hand information. In this case, the interior minister's right-hand man asks the commissioner "if they are taking part in the Pujol junior case", and added that they "have to be there", in a case that was later extended to the entire family.