Former Catalonia president Jordi Pujol denies corruption

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Former Catalonia president Jordi Pujol denies corruption

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As Spain’s Catalan region prepares to call a controversial vote on independence, the area’s former president Jordi Pujol has been forced to explain why he hid hundreds of millions of euros offshore.

The 84-year-old, who faces accusations of corruption and tax evasion, told regional MPs on Friday that his wealth was his inheritance from his father.

“I can say categorically that I have not been a corrupt politician. Just that, I just have not been a corrupt politician. I repeat: I have never received money because of a political or administrative decision,” Pujol said.

The former longtime leader of Spain’s Catalonia region admits he did not disclose details about the fortune he concealed abroad for three decades.

Pujol founded Catalonia’s Convergence and Union political alliance that governs the region. He was the region’s president from 1980 to 2003.

A police report cited by El Mundo newspaper suggests his family has moved more than 581 million euros to tax havens in recent years.

A week ago, Catalonia’s parliament voted in favour of holding a non-binding referendum on independence.

Current regional president Artur Mas will sign a decree formally to launch the process on Saturday.

Spain’s conservative government says it will go to the Constitutional Court to prevent the vote from happening on November 9.