Eight years after the first information about its existence, the investigation of Operation Catalunya makes its way to the courts. The silence that the National Court has been putting on the vigilante operation to counteract the sovereign process in Catalonia, prospectively and without judicial control but with funds from the Ministry of the Interior, has been broken in a court in Andorra, which is formally investigating several commanders police officers and politicians, including former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The news comes three weeks after the commissioner in charge of those maneuvers, Eugenio Pino, has been sentenced in a court of Madrid for trying to adulterate the Pujol case.
Baptized some time after it was launched as Operation Catalunya, the police maneuvers against the procés started shortly after Mariano Rajoy arrived at La Moncloa. On November 30, 2014, elDiario.es revealed that a secret group of police officers tracked down information on alleged corruption of sovereignist leaders and their surroundings outside of any legal case. In this context, Andorra was revealed as a key scenario and the Pujol family as a priority objective.
The action of the Andorran justice comes while in Spain the Operation Catalunya has become the elephant in the room of the Villarejo case. The judge and the Prosecutor's Office resist the great case of the National High Court that investigates the partisan use of the Police in the Kitchen case, to erase evidence of the corruption of the PP in the hands of its former treasurer, to enter the maneuvers against the process In one of his records, the investigating judge, Manuel García Castellón, defends the legality of Villarejo's actions at the time of Operación Catalunya because it consisted of "capture information" on corruption in the aforementioned autonomous community.
Recently, El Periódico de Catalunya reported exclusively that the action against Xavier Vinyals, a member of the pro-independence sphere, has involved the opening of a separate piece, and secret for now, of the Villarejo case. Vinyals was the subject of one of the reports seized from the commissioner that Judge García Castellón had removed from the case because he considered it a State secret.
The lawsuits that have led to the imputation of Rajoy and the rest of the alleged leaders of the political brigade were filed almost six years ago in Andorra, on the one hand by the lnstitut de Drets Humans d'Andorra (IDHA) and the group of jurists Drets , and on the other, by Higini Cierco, former BPA shareholder. The writings deal with an alleged operation, in a double political and police aspect, to irregularly obtain bank information from the Pujol family in the neighboring country. In his resolution, the magistrate cites the six crimes of the Andorran Penal Code that are being investigated: coercion, threats, blackmail, extortion, coercion of Andorran constitutional bodies and creation of an untrue document by an official.
The Andorran banking entity BPA would belong to the money data of Jordi Pujol and other members of the family that were published by the newspaper El Mundo and that caused the former Catalan president to admit that he and his family hid money abroad, although he assured that the origin of 4.5 million euros was a family inheritance and not corruption during 23 years of autonomous government of Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC).
Paradoxically, it has been the well-known commissars war, all of them members of the political brigade, which had so far generated the information on the police maneuvers in Andorra. The IDHA and the Drets entity have asked the instructor for the testimony of the retired commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, who already offered written explanations – he was in jail – to the Andorran Justice in March 2019 about the BPA episode in one of the cases opened due to Cierco's complaint.
to understand Villarejo's interest for collaborating, it is necessary to recover the list of those investigated, which includes one of his greatest enemies, the also commissioner Marcelino Martín-Blas, head of Internal Affairs, the unit on the ground in Operation Catalunya, and commissioner later confronted the undercover police , coinciding with the clash between him and the CNI.
Another useful instrument to follow the thread of Operation Catalunya in Andorra is another police officer, Chief Inspector Celestino Barroso, also charged by the judge. He was attached to the Interior at the Spanish embassy in Andorra between July 2014 and June 2017. Higini Cierco pointed out Barroso before the investigating judge as one of the Spanish policemen who gave him the instructions regarding the Pujol accounts, but also of other alleged Artur Mas and Oriol Junqueras.
Celestino Barroso was replacing Bonifacio Díaz Sevillano, one of the commanders of the first line of that political brigade, who was tried and acquitted for trying to introduce information stolen from the Pujols in the case that is still pending, in the post of Interior attaché in Andorra. the National High Court and who is currently accused of his alleged participation in the espionage of Luis Bárcenas with reserved funds. Last summer, the current government warned PeDeCAT deputy Sergi Miquel that Barroso is protected by diplomatic immunity of the accusations made by the Andorran justice system.
According to several Spanish media, Higini Cierco and Joan Pau Miquel delivered the information about the Pujol's money in a central Madrid hotel to Martín-Blas. This and other members of the political brigade had threatened to take over the BPA in agreement with the US authorities due to suspicions of money laundering from international crime that weighed on the entity.
Despite this, the Cierco lost Banco de Madrid, an entity of which they owned 75% and which was intervened by the Bank of Spain based on a complaint from Fintec, the anti-fraud department of the US Treasury, in March 2015. The facts had sufficient criminal relevance for the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor to file a complaint based on a complaint from the Money Laundering Prevention Service. After years of investigation, the case was filed. The Cierco claim 142 million euros from the Bank of Spain for considering that their intervention and that of Sepblac, "far from tackling the crisis experienced, hastened its end in a few days", as reported by El País last January.
The complainants consider that the vigilante operation was accompanied by another at a high political level between the governments of Andorra and Spain. In addition, Drets and the IDHA want several former Andorran political officials to testify about the episode in which they frame the alleged coercion of the Spanish leaders: the official visit that Rajoy and Montoro made in January 2015 to Andorra, when they met with the then head of Andorran government, Toni Martí, and the ministers Jordi Cinca, Gilbert Saboya and Jordi Alcobé.
Two months later, the US financial authority would issue a first-order notice on money laundering, which it would end up withdrawing less than a year later. Along the way, the Andorran government intervened in the BPA and dismissed its managers in what was the biggest upheaval in decades in the principality's banking system. Now the Justice of the Principality has decided to investigate the head of the Government under which the political police operated, Mariano Rajoy, whom the Spanish courts have exempted from any responsibility for the corruption of the PP and the Executives he presided over between 2011 and 2018.