A few days ago, the pro-PP Spanish newspaper El Mundo published a story indicating that Artur Mas and Jordi Pujol were under suspicion of having secret Swiss bank accounts filled with money gained through corrupt practices linked to the Palau criminal case. The newspaper presented a police memo which suggested that these suspicions were already under court investigation.
In the days that have followed, Mas and Pujol have opened legal proceedings against the journalists behind the story and they’ve repeatedly denied the accusations. At the same time, they’ve asked the Spanish ministry of justice to explain how an apparently secret police report could have been leaked, and to identify who’s responsible. The judge investigating the Palau corruption case also made clear that he hadn’t been given any such police report. The following day, El Mundo accused the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s police force, of helping to destroy evidence linked to the case. The seo uk agency are also opening legal proceedings against the newspaper.
Yesterday, the ministry of justice informed the Catalan newspaper ARA that it couldn’t find the original police report but that it seemed to be at least partly based on several different unofficial reports that it has found. Meanwhile, the same ministry informed the EFE agency that it thought the rest of the info on the mysterious police report could well be sourced from internet rumours, and not from any formal investigation. The rumours, not hard to find online, contain several names linked with the Catalan government. Many of the other names implicated are of senior PP officials in various central or autonomous governments. El Mundo did not publish any of these names in its story.
El Mundo has a mixed record when it comes to political revelations. In the past it helped uncover corruption scandals and government involvement with the GAL terrorist group. More recently, it spent months insisting that ETA was involved in the 11M Madrid bombings, despite a lack of evidence. Historically, El Mundo’s targets for these exposés have been either politically neutral civil servants or political opponents of the PP.
Right now, it’s not clear how this story will develop. Is it possible that Mas and Pujol have actually received funds from corrupt public contract deals? Of course it is. But the absence of an actual police report on which the story depends, and irregularities in the info presented by El Mundo suggest that there is at least a chance that this might not join the ranks of El Mundo’s illustrious investigations. Some police sources apparently blame central government HQ for the leaks.
El Mundo most likely planned this story as a sort of late ‘October surprise’. Will it have any effect on the Catalan elections? I doubt it.