Politics 05/08/2021

The State lawyer sees "risk of nullity" in Court of Auditors case if it reports on ICF guarantees

It raises a consultation to the general lawyer of the State on the advisability of responding to the request of the delegate instructor

2 min
The headquarters of the Court of Audit in Madrid, in an archive image.

MadridThe Court of Auditors could jeopardise the case on the Generalitat's external action. So says Rafael García Monteys, the State lawyer who was part of the accusation during the instruction phase of the procedure, who prefers not to answer the request raised by Court of Auditors to report on whether the risk fund created by the Catalan government to pay the €5.4m bails faced by former officials is legal. As advanced this Wednesday by newspaper Abc, the civil servant escalated the request to the State's top lawyer, Consuelo Castro, so that she may decide on the convenience of resolving the Court's doubts. García Monteys believes this would entail a "risk of nullity", because "the necessary objectivity and impartiality that must govern the advisory function" could be affected. This is because the state lawyer participated in the investigation.

It would pose a "conflict of interest" and a "breakage of balances" that could derail the procedure, García Monteys understands, as revealed in his letter, to which Europa Press has had access. This procedure has its origins in the Court of Auditors' July 27 resolution, which questioned the legality of the bails. These had been guaranteed by the Catalan Institute of Finance (ICF), a public body which was awarded funds to pay bails officials accused of misdemeanours in office until there is a firm ruling against them.

The request for clarification from the State's lawyer came after the Council of Statutory Guarantees, an independent body which advises the Catalan administration, decided endorsed it. Yet the court wants to know whether the Generalitat - which is considered the affected party - can pay the bail, especially considering the accusations of "malice and gross negligence". The request has been dismissed as it was the State lawyer, together with the Prosecutor's Office, urged the Court of Auditors to open an investigation into the Generalitat's foreign action between 2011 and 2017.

Plan B

While waiting for the legal tangle of the ICF guarantees to be resolved, the defendants have also prepared a plan B in case the Court ends up refusing the ICF-backed bail. Catalan Minister of Economy Jaume Giró recalled in a recent interview in ARA that he had contacted banks to get them involved, but he has not succeeded. If they reconsidered their refusal, ICF could withdraw and the controversy would end. As ARA explained, if no banks can be convinced, Esquerra has €2.2m it can mobilize to cover part of the bail, while former president Artur Mas and former minister Francesc Homs can deposit real estate as a guarantee. These are the same ones they already presented over the 2014 referendum trial, although it was the solidarity fund which ended up paying the €5m fine.

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