The Spanish Ministry of the Interior (Internal Administration) announced in a statement that the arrests took place during 31 police raids in the cities of Barcelona and Girona, in the autonomous community of Catalonia.
The detainees are being investigated for alleged embezzlement, malfeasance and money laundering, the ministry says, adding that the investigations revealed that the money destined for the regional government and a regional entity promoting sports teams had been embezzled illegally. .
Among the detainees are four people close to the former independence president of the Catalan government Carles Puigdemont, suspected of embezzling funds to finance his expenses in Belgium, where he went in 2017, fleeing Spanish justice: the former adviser (minister) of the Catalan government, Xavier Vendrell, Puigdemont’s chief of staff, Josep Lluís Alay, businessman Oriol Soler and David Madí, the former head of Catalonia’s Democratic Convergence (CDC), the party to which Puigdemont originally belonged.
The investigation, which has been underway for a year and a half, stems from the lawsuit filed by a judge against an alleged fraudulent scheme to transfer subsidies to CDC-related foundations.
During the investigation, the Guardia Civil (corresponding to the Portuguese GNR) discovered, among other things, the alleged crimes of malfeasance in the requalification of rustic land for the construction of a business center, a restaurant and a school in the city of Cabrera de Mar ( Barcelona), in the area known as Villa Bugatti, managed by former ERC adviser (Esquerda Republicana de Catalunya) Xavier Vendrell.
Catalan television TV3 described some of the individuals being investigated as “businessmen with ties” to the two main pro-independence parties in Catalonia – Together for Catalonia, by Puigdemont, and ERC, by the former vice president of the Oriol region Junqueras, who is serving a prison sentence.
Several of the main leaders of the failed attempt at independence in 2017 of Catalonia, a Spanish autonomous community in the northeast of the country, next to France, are in prison, convicted of crimes of sedition and / or embezzlement of public funds.
Other politicians escaped Spanish justice by fleeing the country, as is the case with Carles Puigdemont.
The independence parties are the majority in the regional parliament, with about 50% of the voters’ votes, and continue to be responsible for the Government of that Spanish region.
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