Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy effectively admitted that Catalan president Carles Puigdemont could not have committed a crime of misappropriation of public funds in relation to Catalonia's independence referendum on 1st October last year.
"Not a single euro of Spain's Regional Liquidity Fund was dedicated to the illegal referendum that was supposedly going to be held in Catalonia", affirmed Rajoy on 7th February this year. The Spanish president was replying to the leader of the Citizens (Cs) party, Albert Rivera on the funding of the Catalan referendum, in the parliamentary question session held in Spain's Congress.
Rajoy's statement in parliament is especially significant because it puts in doubt the charge of misappropriation of funds, which, along with the charge of rebellion, constitute the accusations made against exiled president Carles Puigdemont and other members of his government by the Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena.
Below is the video of the parliamentary session, in two versions: subtitled in English, and in German.
In the European arrest warrant that judge Llarena has issued for the extradition to Spain of Puigdemont, imprisoned in Germany while awaiting a judicial decision, the judge has ticked the box indicating an offence related to "corruption" to facilitate the process, given that there is not an exact equivalence of the offences which he is accused of in Spain with those in the German penal code .
In the parliamentary question asked of Rajoy, Albert Rivera recalled that in August last year, Spain's treasury minister, Cristóbal Montoro, had already affirmed that not even a cent of the Regional Liquidity Fund would be spent on funding the Catalan independence process or the referendum. Montoro is the man who, in practice, has been in control of the Catalan accounts since the Spanish government imposed direct rule over Catalonia under article 155, in relation to the declaration of independence.
The Regional Liquidity Fund (FLA) is a state fund created in 2012, during the economic crisis, under which Spain's regions are now granted finance, to pay debts with banks and financial entities and to ensure the provision of essential services.
Rivera asked Rajoy about the fact that the Spanish public prosecutor and the judge of Court number 13 in Barcelona, investigating the referendum, attributed the funding of the 1st October referendum to the FLA, either wholly or in part.
Not even a single euro of the FLA for the referendum
Rajoy denied flatly that as much as a single euro of the FLA had been spent on the referendum. Rivera then asked: if a judge were to demonstrate the contrary - referring to a hypothetical report that could demonstrate the use of state money in the referendum - which member of the Spanish government would resign? "There is no report that says this", replied Rajoy. However, the prime minister invited the Cs leader to present the documents to the government or the courts if he had them.