The shadow of Societat Civil Catalana also appears in the Barçagate scandal
Club money intended to control the networks ended up in a company close to this association
BarcelonaThe Mossos d'Esquadra (the Catalan police) believe that the disloyal administration of Josep Maria Bartomeu in relation with the Barçagate case is demonstrated, but they continue investigating why such a high amount of money was paid to I3 Ventures. They suspect that "managers, administrators, workers, or collaborators" could have received "considerations" for awarding contracts to this company. If one line of investigation is to know if the protagonists of the alleged crime would have committed it for personal interests, a second line would have a political interpretation.
As explained by the SER radio station, part of the money, in this case, could have been used to finance Societat Civil Catalana (SCC). The company I3 Ventures, who was in charge of performing the alleged network monitoring services for Barça, entered all payments to Telampartner during 2018, as recorded in the summary of the case. Specifically, they transferred 163,350 euros, the same figure they had received from Barça for their services. Telampartner is the company that had initially put the blaugrana club and I3 Ventures in contact in 2017, since part of its services is to facilitate the entry of foreign companies, such as I3 Ventures, into the Spanish market. "Our involvement was merely that of commercial introduction", this company defended in a statement, adding that they had not committed "any irregularities". However, the Mossos are not sure why Telampartner received these payments when it had already done its initial work.
The CEO of this company is Jaime Malet, a position he combines with the presidency of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Spain, a businessman who has openly positioned himself against the Catalan independence bid. In fact, Malet was a member of the Joan Boscà Foundation, an entity born in 2014 to combat sovereignism and closely linked to Societat Civil Catalana. In a brief statement, SCC denied this information and stated that "this conjecture is completely false and totally far from reality".
The Mossos d'Esquadra, in their report, admit that "the specific concept of the advice allegedly provided by Telampartner is unknown, since the transfers made only include the invoice number and the amount of the payment, which largely coincide with the transfer previously received from Barça and in most cases are identical". I3 Ventures and Telampartner were the two companies that the Mossos searched on Monday and where they found documentary evidence that had not been obtained in a first search carried out in the offices of the club in July. In fact, the former president of Barça, Josep Maria Bartomeu, would have admitted to his board the political reading of the case, although without referring directly to SCC. "Bartomeu told us that someone close to Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría recommended him to hire I3 Ventures after October 1, 2017. Both I and several directors thought he was pulling our leg when he explained to us that he had hired this company at the behest of the PP environment", admitted this week the club's former vice president Emili Rousaud, one of the six directors who resigned after learning of Barçagate. He was followed by five more colleagues: Maria Teixidor, Silvio Elias, Jordi Calsamiglia, Josep Pont and Quique Tombas.
The environment of those implicated (Bartomeu, Jaume Masferrer, Román Gómez-Ponti and Òscar Grau) has explained to ARA that the entailment of Barça with SCC is false, and that it has been filtered interestedly to influence in the result of the elections to the presidency of the entity of this Sunday.
Pressure on Noelia Romero
All this takes place while more details of the case are becoming known. As explained by the ARA on Thursday, Bartomeu tried to prevent the club's then head of regulatory compliance, Noelia Romero, from being able to make an independent report on the case. "I ask you to inform me immediately of the existence or not of any investigation on your part in relation to the monitoring of social networks", Bartomeu wrote to Romero, since "in a surprising way, different workers of the club have approached me to inform me that they have met with you or you have summoned them to meet with you to talk about an ongoing investigation that I am totally unaware of". Romero would be fired three days after presenting a report that was critical of Bartomeu's management.