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CORRUPTION IN SPAIN

Civil Guard probes ruling Catalan party over illegal commissions

Anticorruption attorney investigating if construction firm made payments to Mas's CDC

Registro en la sede de la Fundacio CatDem
Civil Guard officers search the headquarters of the CatDem foundation on Friday.

The Civil Guard has begun an operation in Catalonia to investigate the alleged payment of illegal three-percent commissions by a construction firm to the regionally ruling Democratic Convergence (CDC) party.

Just after 1pm on Friday, officers from Tarragona, Barcelona and Madrid entered CDC headquarters to search the office of party treasurer Andreu Viloca. Their action followed that morning’s searches of the offices of the Catalanist and Democrat Foundation (CatDem), which is affiliated to regional premier Artur Mas’s CDC, and of four Catalan town halls that presumably awarded contracts in exchange for commissions from construction company Teyco.

The Anticorruption Attorney’s Office has collected solid proof about the payment of commissions in Catalonia. One month ago investigators discovered documents reflecting such payments in a search of Teyco’s offices. The company is owned by the Sumarrocas, a family traditionally linked to CDC.

The CEO of Teyco, Jordi Sumarroca, is the son of CDC founder Carles Sumarroca Coixet, himself a close friend of former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol

As well as CatDem headquarters the Civil Guard also searched local government offices in Sant Cugat, Figueres, Sant Celoni and Lloret de Mar, which were all under CDC control at the time of the alleged payments, to corroborate their evidence, investigation sources said.

The investigators were looking for evidence of multimillion-euro contracts awarded to Teyco. The majority were handed out in 2009, though the practice continued until 2011. The payments to CatDem continued up until last year.

The CEO of Teyco, Jordi Sumarroca, is the son of CDC founder Carles Sumarroca Coixet, himself a close friend of former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol.

Pujol, who ruled the region from 1980 to 2003, resigned all his honorary positions a year ago after confessing that he kept an undeclared fortune in tax havens for 34 years.

Several of his children are also under investigation for accepting bribes to help companies secure public contracts while their father was in power.

A new chapter in a long story

EL PAÍS

Friday’s raids are just the latest in a series of related police operations against illegal financing in Catalan premier Artur Mas’ CDC party. Judges are already investigating the Torredembarra and Palau cases, involving the alleged payment of commissions to government officials by companies that wished to obtain public contracts.

The Torredembarra case broke in June 2014, when the Civil Guard arrested local mayor Daniel Masagué, six members of his government team and a local businessman. Teyco subsidiaries allegedly paid two companies owned by Masagué over €581,000 for non-existent work. A judge is investigating what the money was really used for.

Even earlier, in July 2009, Catalan police raided the Palau de la Música concert hall in Barcelona to find evidence of financial wrongdoing. The probe ended this year, when a judge decided to try 16 people after collecting enough evidence that Ferrovial, a major construction firm, paid CDC €6.6 million in exchange for large public works contracts such as the new number 9 subway line and the City of Justice. These payments were passed off as donations to the Palau, where managers took bribes for playing along.