Court of Auditors rejects ICF's bonds
Defendants have a plan B
Madrid / BarcelonaThe Court of Auditors continues its offensive against thirty former senior Generalitat officials investigated over the Catalan government's foreign action between 2011 and 2017, El País and El Mundo report and Efe has confirmed. The instructing delegate, Esperanza García, has decided to reject the guarantee the Institut Català de Finances (ICF) put forward to cover the bail of €5.4m imposed in June. Although she demanded that the money be paid urgently, the defendants devised a formula to avoid having to respond with their personal assets and the Government drew up a decree for the ICF to cover the bail. This alternative was endorsed by the Council of Statutory Guarantees and investigated by the Catalan Prosecutor's Office.
García doubted this mechanism was legal and made an inquiry to the State Attorney's before the Court of Auditors to ask whether a public body run by the Generalitat could protect people who, it believed, had embezzled public funds. The Attorney believed that he should not answer because he had been part of the prosecution during the investigation phase of the proceedings and consulted the State Attorney General, Consuelo Castro, on how he should act. Weeks and months went by and it was not until September 21st last year when, along the same lines, she decided not to get involved.
The possibility that the Court of Auditors would not accept the ICF guarantees was always on the cards. That is why in parallel they have worked for months on an alternative to avoid having their assets seized. The question is whether they can now reactivate it. As ARA explained, there are different formulae to try to minimise the effects on the the 34 people accused in this case. Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) had planned to mobilise €2.2m of its funds to help pay for the bails.
It was also planned that the ex president Artur Mas and former minister Francesc Homs could put up their real real estate as a security. They already did in the case over the 2014 independence vote, but in the end the Solidarity Fund paid the fine, meaning the assets could be once again used as a bond – although the case is still not formally over – and, on the other hand, Junts also had to launch a collection of private money among members and sympathisers – as well as the PDECat – to cover the bails.
Now all this will have to be activated again despite the fact that until now the Government was optimistic about the possibility that the Court of Auditors would accept the ICF's guarantees. Last week, precisely, the deadline for the Spanish government to challenge the decree that protects the Generalitat officials before the Court of Auditors in the Constitutional Court expired. This led the Catalan executive to believe that it would be less likely that the ICF's guarantees would be rejected. They also remarked that the decree – which is now being processed as a bill in Parliament – has obtained the endorsement of the Council of Statutory Guarantees and that the State Attorney's Office avoided commenting on whether or not to accept the public guarantee to meet the bail of €5.4m.