A judge investigates the former minister Raül Romeva, the former secretary of the Diplocat Albert Royo and the secretary of the Government, Victor Culell, along with seven other positions of the Generalitat, for embezzle almost a million euros to “internationalize” the process through arbitrary and finger contracts.
The investigation stems from a complaint that the Prosecutor’s Office filed in the courts of Barcelona as a result of a 2019 report from the Court of Accounts, for the crimes of prevarication, embezzlement and falsification of official documents, and focuses on eleven contracts and grants awarded between 2012 and 2017 for a value of 972,228 euros, according to the newspaper Ara.
In a car, the head of the court of instruction number 18 of Barcelona cites as investigated the charges of the Government, accused of diverting funds from the Foreign and Presidential departments to “internationalize the right to decide”, with grants and hiring of “arbitrary” academic works, exceeding the autonomic sphere of competence.
The magistrate has also charged Aleix Villatoro, former secretary general of the Department of Foreign Action, Roger Albinyana, former secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Generalitat, Teresa Prohias, former director of Presidency services, Roser Clavell, former secretary general of Diplocat, Manel Vila, general director of the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation, and Gerard Figueras, Secretary General for Sport and who chaired the Consell Català de l’Esport.
Report of the Court of Auditors
According to the judge in her car, dated May 3, the prosecution’s complaint has its origin in the report of the Court of Accounts that found that the Generalitat had allocated public funds to activities that do not fall within its powers and they can “disturb” the direction of Spanish foreign policy.
The Prosecutor’s Office found alleged irregularities in the award of contracts and grants -awarded “to the finger” or sliced to avoid public competitions-, which according to the judge were not aimed at “promoting the image of the country, the objective of foreign action, but at internationalizing the process on the right to decide.”
Among the contracts investigated are academic works in matters that are in principle outside the competence of the Generalitat, some “aimed at having studies for the creation of the structures of a new State once Catalonia reaches independence”, according to the judge.
Contracts and grants
One of the grants that the judge is investigating – of 40,000 euros – is the one granted in 2016 by the former Foreign Minister Raül Romeva y Villatoro to the Federation of Catalan Organizations Internationally Recognized (FOCIR), “without justifying the reasons” that there was no public attendance.
The direct contracting without competition in 2015 of two reports on multilateral treaties and procedures of a new State to enter international organizations, to the same person and in two payments of 17,500 euros.
And, that same year, the direct hiring by Víctor Cullell – former general director of Presidency Analysis – of a report for 13,636 euros to the sociologist Salvador Cardús on the different instruments of international cooperation between Spain and Catalonia in the event of independence.
Cardús also acted as an intermediary, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, in the direct award in 2015 to a Belgian company, of which data are unknown, of a report on the European defense policy that shows 5,000 euros were paid, a case that the judge sees “especially remarkable” since it has not been possible to prove who is the account holder Belgium to which the payment was transferred.
Roser Clavell is attributed by the Prosecutor’s Office with the granting of a direct grant in 2012 to FOCIR for an amount of 50,000 euros, without specifying the destination, or monitoring this aid, which was not publicized.
Regarding Royo, who directed Diplocat from 2014 to 2016, the judge investigates him for some grants for amounts of 100,000, 125,000 and 125,000 euros in which FOCIR was directly designated as a collaborating entity, without competition, and an agreement that it signed in 2017 with the Secretary of Sports, Gerard Figueras, and the director of the Catalan Cooperation Agency (ACCD), Manel Vila, to award a direct grant of 165,000 euros to that entity.
The Secretary General of Diplocat also commissioned the Barcelona Institute for International Studies (IBEI) to carry out a study on the status that a region that becomes independent from a member state could have in the EU, which ended up being awarded to two European centers worth 196,920 euros.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, a fractional hiring to produce 20 videos, for 48,230 euros, to promote the right to decide at the doors of the 9N consultation, in which Diplocat assumed 10,000 euros of the cost generated by the trip to Catalonia for eight European parliamentarians.
Another of Royo’s hires that the judge is investigating is that of a “coworking” space in Brussels between May and November 2017, coinciding with the months in which the 1-O was prepared and celebrated and the DUI was voted in the Parliament, worth 13,352 euros.
The prosecution’s complaint is also directed against former minister Quico Homs, for fragmenting a service contract to displace attendees to a world meeting of Catalan communities, an award on a project for an international revitalization zone and a direct grant to Catdem – related to CDC – for its membership of the European Liberal Forum.
However, the judge considers that neither the report of the Court of Accounts nor the documentation analyzed “evidence of criminal evidence”, beyond “mere administrative irregularities”.