The Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit ( UDEF ) of the Police and the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office launched a macro-operation this morning against the Diputació de Barcelona . The cause is open for the crimes of embezzlement, prevarication, negotiation prohibited to the public official, falsehood and fraud in subsidies destined to international cooperation between 2012 and 2015. Fraud in subsidies is investigated through different entities for a minimum value of two millions of euros .
At the moment there are about thirty detainees and accused , as confirmed by the Zoido Minister, among whom is the president of the CATmón Foundation Víctor Terradellas ; the former director of International Relations of the Diputació de Barcelona, Jordi Castells ; the mayor of Tordera, Joan Carles Garcia Cañizares; and the former mayor of Martorell and former president of the Diputació de Barcelona, Salvador Esteve . Zoido himself has ruled out for the moment that the diversion of funds is related to procés pro-independence.
In the framework of this case, which is secret, the magistrate has agreed to the practice of 20 entries and records in professional offices, offices, homes and businesses (including the Development Cooperation Office or the headquarters of the CATmón Foundation) located in Barcelona, Manresa, Olot, Tordera, Cambrils and Reus, among others. To ensure the execution of entries and records, the police will make about thirty arrests. Nearly 500 police officers participate in the device.
The Court of Instruction No. 1 of Barcelona has been investigating a framework for more than a year for which a minimum of two million euros would have been defrauded through irregular subsidies in the field of development cooperation with countries in Latin America, Morocco or Bosnia , among others, from the Diputació de Barcelona through various entities between 2012 and 2015. The money defrauded was intended to provide technical assistance to developing countries, but did not reach its beneficiaries.
The headquarters of London Street in Barcelona, where the services of legal assistance, international relations, the betting board and real estate management are, is one of the main points registered by the agents. In the Rambla de Catalunya building members of the UDEF interrogate Joan Carles García Cañizares , who is assisted by the lawyer Xavier Melero. In addition to mayor of Tordera, Garcia is also deputy delegate of Finance, Human Resources, Processes and Information Society and, formerly between 2011 and 2015, he was direct of International Relations of the Diputació de Barcelona.
As detailed by the Ministry of the Interior, among the irregular grants stand out those received by the not-for-profit entities CATmón and IGMAN. Only these two entities perceived between 2011 and 2015 more than 10 million euros from various Catalan public bodies, including the Diputació itself, so it is suspected that the fraud would be much higher .
Complaint for fraud
The Diputació de Barcelona , chaired by Mercè Conesa, is not the first time it has been put in the glass for alleged subsidy fraud. Precisely, two years ago the CUP denounced to the Anti-Fraud Office of Catalonia that the Diputació de Barcelona had granted subsidies for development cooperation to companies and employers through contracts without advertising or competition, at least for one million euros.
The irregularities they denounced are focused on the granting of funds that supposedly had to be dedicated to international cooperation but that were allocated, between 2012 and 2015, to employers and companies that did not have previous experience in development cooperation and that would be in process of internationalization or conquest of markets in poor countries, especially in the Maghreb and Latin America.
Jordi Castells resigned in 2015 as a result of accusations in the press of having distributed more than one million euros of development cooperation irregularly between private companies and non-profit entities. In addition to the allegations of the CUP and the CGT union, there were also other anonymous complaints.
The president of the Diputació de Barcelona, surprised with the operation
The president of the Diputació de Barcelona, Mercè Conesa, has confessed in RAC1 that they did not know anything about this operation and that the news in the media has caught them by surprise: “We have no idea in what sense the request can go of files they will make. ” Conesa does not see “any reason to stop me” and considers it a “media shock to show that Catalan institutions are not clear water”.