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Catalan ex-leader Pujol’s youngest son arrested in tax fraud probe

Police carry out simultaneous searches of Oleguer Pujol Ferrusola’s home and businesses

The search at the home of Oleguer Pujol’s business partner Luis Iglesias.
The search at the home of Oleguer Pujol’s business partner Luis Iglesias.

The youngest son of former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol was arrested Thursday morning and his businesses in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Melilla were simultaneously searched in a coordinated police raid.

Oleguer Pujol Ferrusola, the last of seven children born to Pujol, who ruled Catalonia for 23 years and is considered one of the founding fathers of the contemporary nationalist movement there, is suspected of money laundering and tax fraud. Investigators are looking into multi-million-euro investments made in Spain and abroad using money located in tax havens.

He and his associate Luis Iglesias were released later Thursday morning but face preliminary charges. The police’s financial crimes unit has been searching his home in Barcelona since 8am and has orders to take away all documents, including email exchanges, relating to suspect transactions.

One of the reasons for their arrests is that both men were believed to have had a smartphone application that, at the press of a button, enabled them to delete all files from their computers and send them to a remote server to keep them from prying eyes, sources close to the investigation said.

Oleguer is the latest member of the Pujol family to be targeted by investigators. His brother Jordi is under investigation for allegedly accepting €7.5 million in exchange for helping certain businesses secure Catalan government contracts between 2004 and 2012. His brother Oriol is also under scrutiny for similar reasons. His sister Marta, an architect, obtained at least seven public works projects from the government headed by her father.

In a letter published on July 25 the 84-year-old patriarch, Jordi Pujol, confessed that he had kept an undeclared fortune of several million euros stashed abroad for 34 years. The revelation came on the same day that the Pujol family regularized its situation with the tax authorities

Oleguer Pujol.
Oleguer Pujol.

Investigating High Court judge Santiago Pedraz will try to determine where Oleguer Pujol Ferrusola obtained the hundreds of millions of euros to purchase buildings and banks across Spain, including 1,152 branches of Banco Santander, a hotel in the Canary Islands and several properties in Palma de Mallorca.

His suspect companies include Drago Capital, Samos Servicios y Gestiones, Longshore SLM, GI Investments, Ursus Alpha SL, Jasmund Spain SL, Trisola Servicios y Gestiones, Step Negocios, Orchard Spain, Ampuria Capital, Silvercode Investment Socimi, Canga Real Estate, Incola Ciudad, New Positively 21 and Tres Forcas Capital.