The detective agency Método 3, which allegedly recorded a private lunch meeting between the head of the Popular Party (PP) in Catalonia and a woman who has accused the son of an ex-regional leader of laundering money in Andorra, is the object of a number of ongoing investigations by the National Police.
A former policeman, who took early retirement and at one time worked for Método 3, gave the Barcelona police on Thursday copies of those recordings of the lunch between Alicia Sánchez-Camacho and María Victoria Álvarez, the former lover of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola.
Álvarez detailed for Sánchez-Camacho how she witnessed Pujol Ferrusola laundering money on behalf of his family whose patriarch is Jordi Pujol, the former Catalonia regional premier and onetime powerful political boss of the Convergència nationalist party.
The former police officer, who works for another private company and teaches law enforcement, also turned over dozens of “sensitive” dossiers that detectives at Método 3 compiled on politicians, businessmen, judges and prosecutors, sources said.
The use of hidden microphones – which is a violation of the country’s secrecy laws – was “rarely used” by the agency, according to the sources. The majority of the investigations on different people were very limited because of “shortages of staff and qualified investigators” at Método 3. Most of the information compiled was generic, such as basic social security and AEAT tax agency data.
Down the years, Método 3 compiled more than 20,000 files on different people, say industry sources.
Interior Minister Jorge Fernández announced “an exhaustive” investigation because “we have a lot of information”
Corroborating the version of events as printed in several Spanish newspapers, the security sector sources acknowledged that it was the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) which hired Método 3 to investigate the lunch date between Sánchez-Camacho and Álvarez at La Camarga restaurant in Barcelona in July 2010.
“Paco Marco [the director at Método 3] was a close friend of the owner of the restaurant, and would eat there almost every day,” said one source. Clients of Método 3 included people from different parties, the sources said.
Álvarez told Sánchez-Camacho how she accompanied Pujol Ferrusola to Andorra with a trunk full of packets of 500-euro notes that he eventually deposited in a bank account. She told the PP leader that she feared for her life if she decided to report him. But she eventually appeared before anticorruption prosecutors last month to give her story.
Método 3 stopped operating some days ago. According to sources, the agency had to lay off workers, including the former policeman who worked there from 2010 to last September. He was in charge of the department that handled computer data. Because the agency couldn’t pay him all the money it owed, the retired officer took with him equipment, video and audio tapes and some sensitive dossiers. This information, including the recording of Sánchez-Camacho and Álvarez’s lunch and data about other investigations carried out on politicians and other well-known people across Spain, is now in the hands of Barcelona police’s technology division.
On Thursday, Interior Minister Jorge Fernández announced “an exhaustive” investigation into the matter because “we have a lot of information.”
There are also strong indications that the PSC, under its former secretary José Zaragoza, who is now a deputy in the regional parliament, may have hired Método 3 to conduct the investigation. Ana Villena Barjau, who works in the PSC’s legal division, is said to have put Zaragoza in contact with Método 3. Barjau’s sister, Elisenda, worked at the agency and was one of more than 150 suspects arrested in May 2012 as part of the so-called Operation Pitiusa, when authorities busted an organization that allegedly sold private data to third parties, including the National Intelligence Agency (CNI).
Elisenda, age 51, was put in charge at the agency of purchasing material, such as work and health records and bank information, on different people. Another sister, Carina, also worked at Método 3 and was arrested in Operation Pitiusa.
Zaragoza has denied the allegations.