Acqusition of 1.152 Offices of Santander Brings Oleguer Pujol to Anti-Corruption Investigation

29/07/2014 – El Confidencial

The reason why the ex-leader of Catalonian Government (Generalitat), Jordi Pujol, confessed having undeclared heritage in Andorra becomes perfectly clear. Local police have been interrogating one of his sons, Oleguer Pujol Ferrusola, for the purchase of Santander´s office network for which he paid over €2 billion at the end of 2007 and four other suspicious transactions. Once the police report delivered, Spain´s anticorruption prosecutor´s office opened criminal investigations.

The Internal Affairs Unit has been watching the businessman carefully since it had received an information about some odd movements linked to the purchase of 1.152 offices from Santander. The murky element is the origin of the funds necessary for the purchase, thought to be a subject to money laundering. The acquisition was conducted through Samos Servicios y Gestiones,  a firm established only one month prior to the transaction with social capital floor of €3.010. Later in December, a sole partner joined the company – the Netherlands-based “Cuius Holding” chaired by Oleguer Pujol.

Changing the companies´ addresses or names, although the owners remained the same, was a quite popular practice that time, excercised in Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and in Luxembourg. Among the firms based in these countries and related to the youngest Pujol one may find, for instance, Drago Real EstateMare Nostrum CapitalDrago MediterraneanCuius HoldingSant Capital or Pavone Investment. In Spain, the suspect operates via Samos Servicios y Gestiones, Drago Capital and Longeshore.

In 2008, Cuius changed the name and Oleguer Pujol stepped back from the president´s office to take this position in Madrid-based Drago Capital the following year. Controlled from Amsterdam by Drago Mediterranean Cooperatief, the affiliate purchased the network of Santander, as well as several properties in Barcelona and Madrid from Grupo Prisa in 2008 for €200 million through another arm Drago Real Estate. Also, he acquired some land in Melilla for €15 million, a few properties from Bankia for €100 million and another unit in the Canaries through firm Servifonia Plus.

Oleguer Pujol had continued to play his roles as a proxy, CEO and vice-president of Samos until 1st April 2013, when revelations about the foreign accounts of Pujol started to leak out. He also led Drago until January 2013 when the real scandal burst.

For the investigators, the very fact that Cuius Holding was based in the Netherlands was not random but it could have been created to redirect funds to the Netherlands Antilles, however the data is still unconfirmed. Two years ago, the police scrutinised the younger Pujol for owning a €137 million in real estate and almost €400 million in assets in Switzerland.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor´s Office has decided to run the criminal investigations to examine and analyze possible penal repercussion on the firms. Probably, the National High Court will have to intervene in the foreign companies´cases.

Oleguer Pujol´s interrogation follows an earlier trial of his older brother Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, who was accused of money laundering and fiscal offence by damping money to tax paradises and dodging contribution to the Spanish Treasury. Precisely, the judge is awaiting a report by the Police´s Fiscal and Economic Crime Unit and the Tax Office before it decides whether or not to carry on with the interrogation and declare him and his wife Merce Girones the defendants.

In its last but not final report, the Police stated a considerable amount of money could be involved in the case, initially stated at €32 million, might have proceeded from commissions charged for public works and not from service providing as he keeps defending. If this is true, famous political party CiU might get into trouble.

Another son of the politician, Oriol Pujol, is also involved into an issue concerning selling Technical Inspection of Vehicles certificates, far away from the money diversion behind the back of the Treasury.

 

Original article: El Confidencial (by Carlota Guindal)

Translation: AURA REE

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