JORDI Pujol, the former regional president of Catalunya for 23 years, is to face trial along with his seven children over an alleged fortune which was not declared to tax authorities.
Judge Santiago Pedraz, who sits at the National Court in Madrid, has charged Pujol and his family members with criminal association, money laundering, false documentation, and filing false company documents and seven tax offences.
Pujol’s wife Marta Ferrusola was not charged because she is suffering from dementia.
Pujol was given ten days to deposit a surety of €7.5 million with the court.
Ten other businessmen are also charged in relation to the case.
The once prominent family allegedly cashed in on their “position of privilege” in Catalan society to accommodate a “disproportionate” wealth allegedly through illegal commissions of 3% that companies paid to secure government contracts and other favours, court documents said.
These activities went on between 1980 and 2003 when Pujol was president of the regional government, the judge said in a ruling.
The eight-year investigation targeted bank accounts hidden in tax havens which were allegedly used to move millions of euros.
In 2014, Pujol admitted publicly that he had offshore bank accounts containing several million euros in Andorra.
Prosecutors allege that the family operated as a criminal organisation.
In court documents, the judge noted that the cash held in bank accounts did not come from an inheritance received from Pujol’s grandfather, Florenci, as he had claimed.
When he released a letter in 2014 admitting the bank account in Andorra, Pujol claimed that Florenci had made the money on the currency black market during the Franco dictatorship and left it to his grandchildren.
The revelation caused a political storm in Catalunya as the independence movement was gathering pace in the region.
A non-binding poll on splitting from Spain was held the same year.
Pujol, 90, who led the conservative Democratic Convergence of Catalunya party, had never supported Catalan independence during his time in office but instead negotiated greater autonomy for the wealthy region from Spain.
The court investigation alleges the illicit payments to the Pujol family were disguised by a complicated system of front companies, using tax havens and contracts for alleged services or advisory work whose existence is not backed up by any reliable documentation.
The judge noted Pujol and his wife – who liked to call herself the ‘Mother Superior of the Congregation’ – allegedly organised the criminal organisation along with family members.