CORRUPT POLITICS

Corruption allegations surround Catalan Pujol clan

Sons of former regional premier probed

After many years of scrutiny and investigations, the Pujol-Ferrusola family of Catalonia — whose patriarch is a former regional premier and one of the region’s biggest political powerbrokers — has always been able to escape when allegations of impropriety and corruption have surfaced.

“For many years they have looked into my affairs and photographed everything but have never been able to pin anything on me,” said Jordi Pujol, the former leader of CDC, part of the CiU nationalist bloc, back in 1995.

But now, after a police report surfaced late last year suggesting that Pujol and his family may have secret Swiss bank accounts, along with the current premier and CiU leader, Artur Mas, investigators have taken a wider look at his sons’ activities.

For 23 years when the father was in power, his sons, through different companies, were awarded fat contracts which many claim were handed out through false bidding. All of these cases came under police and court investigation but ended with no prosecutions.

On Thursday, the former girlfriend of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola testified before the High Court that she had helped him transport bags of 500 euro notes across the border into Andorra in the trunk of his car.

Bid rigging

Oriol Pujol, one of seven sons and the current secretary general of the CDC, is also being targeted in an ongoing investigation into bid fixing for ITV vehicle inspection stations in Catalonia. Last September, Barcelona Judge Silvia López Mejía wrote in a ruling that there were “rational indications” that Pujol had played a key part in the conspiracy.

The elder Pujol said these allegations against him and his family “are hurting the country.”

Jordi Pujol Ferrusola also reportedly received some lucrative contracts from the regional government. The first in 1991, when Natural Stone, a firm that specialized in quarry rock, won a 600,000-euro contract to supply marble for the floors at Barcelona’s El Prat airport. Pujol Ferrusola and his then wife Mercè Gironés, were respectively vice president and administrator at an affiliate, Natural Stone Marketing Centre.

For the past seven years, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola has been operating businesses in Mexico, but is now listed as the sole administrator of a translation company in Barcelona.

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