Powerful Catalan ex-leader summoned in fraud case

16th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

A judge on Tuesday summoned a powerful political figure in Spain's Catalonia region, Jordi Pujol, as a fraud suspect at a politically sensitive time for the region.

Pujol headed the Catalan regional government from 1980 to 2003 and later became a leading figure in the drive for independence for the northeastern region, which is embroiled in a tense standoff with Madrid.

An investigating judge in Barcelona, Beatriz Balfagon, named Pujol as a formal suspect and ordered him, his wife and three of their children to appear in court for questioning on January 27, in a written ruling.

She also ordered further investigations into his tax affairs in Andorra and Liechtenstein.

Jordi Pujol shocked Catalan political circles when he admitted in July that he had kept a fortune hidden from the Spanish taxman for decades. He denied political corruption, however.

His three sons also face fraud accusations in separate cases.

The cases against the family have complicated the campaign by Catalonia's current president Artur Mas, Jordi Pujol's political heir, to hold a vote on independence for the region.

Spain's government outlawed any such move, but Mas pushed ahead with a symbolic ballot last month. Pro-independence parties are now considering their next move.

© 2014 AFP

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