Choose Edition
Connect
Choose Edition
Tamaño letra

Political corruption behind fortune held by ex-Catalan premier’s son, police say

Jordi Pujol, who ruled region for 23 years, has confessed to keeping millions in tax havens

Jordi Pujol and his son Jordi hiking in the Pyrenees in 1999.
Jordi Pujol and his son Jordi hiking in the Pyrenees in 1999. EL PAÍS

Political corruption is the origin of the fortune amassed over the years by the eldest son of long-serving former Catalan regional premier Jordi Pujol, according to the police.

Jordi Pujol Ferrusola has been targeted by investigators for over a year after a former girlfriend told the police that he often travelled to Andorra and returned with bags full of €500 notes.

The new report links Pujol Ferrusola’s highly successful business ventures to “political initiatives by people within his most intimate circle,” an apparent reference to his father, Jordi Pujol.

Pujol senior, 84, was in power for 23 years, and was head of the nationalist party Convergència Democrática de Catalunya (CDC), one half of the CiU bloc that rules the region. He was Catalonia’s most renowned leader and is considered a father of Catalan nationalism.

Pujol Ferrusola reportedly received lucrative contracts from the regional government of Catalonia

But on Saturday, the legend sustained a severe blow when Pujol admitted in a letter that he has kept a fortune in tax havens for 34 years, and has only recently settled his dues with the Tax Agency.

Critics say that Pujol has now confessed in an attempt to take the heat away from his seven children, two of whom have been investigated for questionable business practices. In the letter, Pujol claimed that it was his own father, Florenci Pujol, who made a fortune and passed it on to his grandchildren in 1980. This, then, would explain the large amounts of money handled by Pujol Ferrusola.

But the police are working with a different hypothesis, and their conclusion is that the eldest son’s fortune “cannot be explained by income from the legal economy.” The report says that Ferrulosa “benefited indirectly” from an environment that “generated a network of influences” that reached all the way to “regional agencies.”

Pujol Ferrusola reportedly received lucrative contracts from the regional government. In 1991, Natural Stone, a firm specializing in quarry rock, won a €600,000 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.

Critics say Pujol senior has now confessed to try to take the heat away from his seven children

And then there is Active Translation, a translation company-turned-real estate administrator. In 2004, Pujol’s brother-in-law Ramon Gironès became the sole manager of the firm. A short time later, Active Translation sold its shares in another company, Gestió i Recuperació de Serveis, for nearly €5.3 million. The sale is suspect because Gestió’s assets were worth only €350,000 in 2002. Investigators believe the case may be linked to a public bid for a contract that was won by Gestió in 2002, when Pujol Ferrusola was still a shareholder.

In another case, Pujo Ferrusola and his wife bought two countryside properties in 2002 for €217,000, and sold them four years later for €4.8 million. A month later, the land was rezoned by the city of Palamós to allow residential building.

Meanwhile, his brother Oriol Pujol has also been investigated for bid fixing for ITV vehicle inspection stations in Catalonia.