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Catalan ex-premier tells court that secret fortune came from his father

Jordi Pujol testifies before judge investigating money he kept hidden in Andorra

Jordi Pujol and Marta Ferrusola arrive at the Barcelona courthouse.
Jordi Pujol and Marta Ferrusola arrive at the Barcelona courthouse.

Former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol insisted in court on Tuesday that the fortune he kept hidden in Andorra bank accounts for 34 years, which is now the focus of a criminal investigation, derived from money he inherited from his father.

The 84-year-old head of one of the most powerful families in Catalonia, testified for two hours before the Barcelona judge who is trying to determine if the founder of the pro-independence Convergència party is lying about the origin of his fortune.

In the closed court hearing, Pujol maintained the line he has defended until now that attributes the source of the money to an inheritance. According to sources, he revealed that his father Florenci Pujol, who died in 1980, left letters detailing to whom he wanted to bequeath his wealth. Nevertheless, the former premier did not produce any documents to support his testimony.

He said the letters were in the possession of his wife, Marta Ferrusola, who exercised her right not to testify.

A small group of protestors shouted insults at Pujol and his wife as they entered the Barcelona court

The couple were subpoenaed last year after Pujol acknowledged in a public letter in July that he had kept accounts containing several million euros in Andorra and Switzerland and had only recently paid fines to settle the irregular situation with the Spanish tax authorities.

Pujol and his wife arrived at the Barcelona courthouse at around 9.30am surrounded by heavy security. A small group of protestors gathered nearby shouted insults at the couple as they walked in and after they emerged from the hearing.

“Whatever I have to say, I said it before who I had to say it,” said Pujol, refusing to take reporters’ questions.

The former premier, who presided over Catalonia from 1980 to 2003, is an official suspect in the tax case, along with his wife and three of his seven children: Marta, Mireia and Pere. The obscure rightwing union Manos Limpias filed a complaint against Pujol on July 25.

Two other sons, Jordi and Oriol Pujol Ferrusola, are already being investigated for other alleged crimes.

While there are many questions about the Pujols’ finances, the preliminary investigation has uncovered that the former Catalan leader had at least €4 million deposited in the Banca Privada de Andorra.

Defense lawyers Cristóbal Martell and Albert Carrillo have stated that Pujol has never deposited funds in foreign bank accounts, even though he inherited money from his family who held them, and that he did not know how to handle the situation. Their argument is that no tax crime exists because Pujol paid a fine to the Spanish authorities to regulate his situation.

Working in the defense’s favor is the fact that authorities in both Andorra and Switzerland have so far refused to cooperate with the Barcelona judge’s inquiry.

In November, Pujol appeared before Catalan lawmakers denying that he was corrupt and rejecting allegations he was paid commissions while he was premier.