14/10/2021

Court of Auditors' sentencing without a trial

2 min
Image of the Court of Auditors building.

BarcelonaIn politics, coincidences are always suspicious. When not even an hour had passed since the announcement of the agreement between the PP and the PSOE to renew the Constitutional Court, the Ombudsman, the Data Protection Agency and the Court of Auditors, this last institution published a note in which it rejected payment by the Institut Català de Finances (ICF) of the bails required from defendants in case of the Catalan government's foreign action. And then it ordered to proceed to seise the assets of all of them to cover a €5.4m bail. It is certainly alarming that, shortly after it became known that the Court of Auditors, until now controlled by the PP through former minister Margarita Mariscal de Gante, would be renewed, the investigator of the Foreign Affairs case, Esperanza García, published a decision that, in addition to appearing to be a political revenge against the independence movement, means de facto a conviction without any trial having taken place.

The investigator of the case takes the decision by making a biased reading of the decree which created the Generalitat's Complementary Risk Fund, since it states that it does not cover the case of those affected by this case because "it does not cover malicious conduct or conduct marked by acts carried out with negligence or gross negligence". It is clear that the decree does not cover these behaviours because it provides that when there is a final ruling against public servants who have benefited from the ICF bonds will have to pay them back. What cannot be done is to presuppose "fraudulent conduct" without there having been a trial. It seems clear that the investigator makes an unlawful reading of a decree that was endorsed by the Council of Statutory Guarantees and which has not been appealed by the Spanish government before the Constitutional Court.

The most regrettable thing is that this outcome was expected even by those affected, since the whole procedure in the Court of Auditors is surrounded by irregularities and legal uncertainty. That is why parties had already been preparing a response for some time in case this rejection of endorsements was given, which we hope this time will not be overturned, because what cannot be allowed is that prestigious public servants, some who are not even members of political parties, have their lives ruined by the deep structures of the State taking revenge against anything that resembles sovereigntism.

In any case, taking advantage of the renewal of the Court of Auditors, the Spanish government should proceed to a comprehensive reform of a discredited institution tainted by multiple scandals of nepotism. It is no longer just a question of protecting the political officials and civil servants who limited themselves to doing their jobs in the case of Catalan foreign action, but of preventing this institution from being used to persecute political dissidence, whatever it may be, on the basis of fines and embargoes.

For the moment, it is evident that the Court of Auditors' actions have already done a great deal of harm, since it will be increasingly difficult for a professional to take the step into public administration when they know that they may be exposed to a risk like this. And the result of all this is impoverishment and democratic degradation.

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