Mines, shopping centers, residences and favors: Xavier Vendrell's vast network of influences
Businessman Oriol Soler (left) and former ERC director Xavier Vendrell, in a file photo.Toni Albir / EFE

Almost no one dares to ignore the calls and messages from Xavier Vendrell, businessman, leader of the you process in the shade, former leader of the Republican Esquerra and one of the most influential personalities in the independence movement. Your mobile phone, analyzed by the Civil Guard in the Voloh case —That investigates the alleged diversion of public funds to the you process– reveals an unparalleled network of contacts and how Vendrell tried to use his influence over public office in his party, but also in Junts per Catalunya, to favor his private businesses.

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The WhatsApp messages on Vendrell’s mobile indicate that he is in all the sauces, that he has interests in disparate economic sectors (from mining to nursing homes, through shopping centers) and that his contact list is worth gold. Vendrell also asks for meetings with the former Minister of Territory Damià Calvet (Junts) or with the mayor of Lleida, Miquel Pueyo (ERC), who requests favors from the former president of the CEOE, Juan Rosell: to help him get an appointment at La Moncloa or to expedite the obtaining of Spanish nationality for the son of an employer. They all answer him and, in general, agree to what he asks of them.

Vendrell’s client network had already been partly exposed in the investigations of the Voloh case, which in October 2020 culminated in his arrest and that of a score of people, including some prominent members of the independence movement. Like David Madí, former campaign manager for Artur Mas and, like Vendrell, turned into a successful businessman. The emptying of the mobile device of the former ERC director delves into the deep influences of Vendrell in Catalonia.

The Cardona mines

The Civil Guard highlights that Vendrell intends to enter the business of the Cardona mines. Lluís Recoder, former mayor of Sant Cugat and former Minister of Territory, practices as a lawyer at Iberpotash, the company that operates those in Súria. According to the investigators, the former ERC organization secretary intends to install a nuclear landfill at the Súria and Cardona facilities, which were among the sites considered by the Government. Recoder supports it, the City Council rejects it. To unblock the situation, nothing better than knocking on the Government’s door. Vendrell writes to two former senior officials of the Generalitat.

Treatment plants and landfills

His partner Joan Griñó must participate in the business. Vendrell tries to make way for him in the Catalan Government and for that he speaks, in 2019, with the then Minister of Territory, Damià Calvet, in relation to a business of Griñó on the energy generation plants of the treatment plants. “Good morning, Minister. Griñó asks me if you have had the opportunity to talk, with whom it may concern, on the subject of plants ”.

Vendrell also writes to Calvet concerned about the situation at the Riba-roja landfill, again at Griñó’s request. “The issue is getting complicated and he asks me to help him out with the people of Esquerra. Before doing so, I would like to talk to you about it so as not to do anything inappropriate ”. The counselor replied: “The issue is that all the mayors of the region are clearly against it (…) I have no margin. Let’s see each other ”.

A shopping center in Lleida

The mayor of Lleida, the republican Miquel Pueyo, is another of the public personalities played by Vendrell. The conversations revolve around a shopping center project, Torres Salsas, which the Eurofund company intends to exploit and which seems stranded. Many people participate in the conversations, including the historic nationalist leader Felip Puig, who held various councils during the governments of Jordi Pujol and Artur Mas.

Puig tries to convince Vendrell to pressure Pueyo: “Squeeze MP.” In July 2019, Vendrell wrote to the mayor, congratulating him on his victory in the elections and telling him that he wanted to tell him about a project for the city that “would be the bomb”. In August, according to Vendrell’s whatsapps, a meeting is held between the company and the town hall. One of the interested members asks him about a meal with the mayor: “He promised to go to your facilities.”

The project, however, does not advance and in May 2020 Puig, who seems to act as an intermediary in favor of the company, complains: “What can we do?” “In one day I go up to see Miquel, but I don’t have much hope (…) They are very purists and I have to go with lead feet,” he admits. Puig, a political animal, reproaches the mayor’s attitude: “What an unpolitical vision. It is the only great possible investment that Lleida will see in the next five years ”.

On the phone there are also allusions to interests in nursing homes and to Vendrell’s intervention during the months of the pandemic in Catalonia. He maintains contacts with a construction company (Benito Arnó) interested in building a center for the elderly.

Streamline nationality

Among the documentation found there are also conversations with the then president of the CEOE, Juan Rosell. In November 2018, he wrote: “If we could undo the visit to La Moncloa, you would do me a great favor, for me it is important for different reasons.” Rosell responds: “Pedro Sánchez in Development Dec 20. Opportunity to meet! Let’s talk ”.

Vendrell even asks the president of the employer a favor for a friend: to influence to speed up the process of granting Spanish nationality to the Venezuelan son of a Spanish builder named Jesús Vicuña. “I’ll give you a brief note to explain who is the person for whom I am asking you to speed up the process (…) I will write it to you in Spanish in case you have to send it to someone.” Rosell, concludes the Civil Guard, “told him that he would intercede with the deputy director of the cabinet, Ana Alcañiz.”

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