Barcelona – Is Spain still a liberal democracy, given the way the country deals with political opponents? This time the question is asked by Italian economist Michel Boldrin. He shares the concerns of an army of economics Nobel laureates – 33 of them, including Paul Krugman, Angus Deaton and Joseph Stiglitz – who have voiced their support for fellow Catalan Andrew Mas Collele in an open letter. The Spanish Court of Audit threatens to corrupt him and 40 other former members of the Catalan government by demanding millions.
From 2010 to 2016, Mas Colel held the position of Minister of Regional Economy. Herein lies the problem, because in December 2017, the Court of Auditors launched an investigation into Catalan foreign policy since 2011. Any spending of the regional government could be linked in one way or another to the reinforcement of the Catalan aspiration for independence abroad. magnifying glass.
Saying across the border that you support the creation of your own state, or holding a referendum on this issue – three-quarters of Catalans want it – is not allowed. At least not if the trip was paid for with government money. In a first report, the Court of Auditors saw “irregularities” of 416 million euros.
Example. In June 2014, Regional Prime Minister Artur Maas inaugurated a plasma plant for the Catalan multinational company Grifols in the United States. Journalists immediately asked about the plans for the referendum and the Spanish resistance against it. “If they deny us the right to vote, we have a struggle,” Maas said. “A clash of civilization, in which we all have to express ourselves with respect.” Court conclusion: the expenses of Mas’s trip and the trip of the entire Catalan trade delegation to the United States are fraudulent. “This is crazy,” says one of those affected. “It is an assault on freedom of expression.”
The amount of the lawsuit against the 41 suspects will be announced this week. Without a trial, because the Audit Bureau is not a court. They will be heard first. For example, Andreu Mas-Colell and others may try to defend themselves against eighteen thousand pages of documents that do not make clear who is accused of what. If they cannot pay the deposit – according to insiders, from five to 25 million euros – their assets and income will be immediately confiscated. An appeal can take five or six years. Until then, the financial cliff threatens.