On Thursday Catalonia’s Caixa de Solidaritat —a solidarity fund managed by Òmnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly— paid a total of €2.7m to cover the penalties imposed on several officials hit by Spain’s judicial crackdown on the Catalan independence movement. Specifically, the fund paid two million euros to Spain’s Court of Auditors to cover the fine levied on Artur Mas, Joana Ortega, Irene Rigau, Francesc Homs and six other former Catalan government appointees who had been found guilty [of misusing public funds to stage a non-binding independence vote on 9 November 2014].
The Caixa de Solidaritat had already deposited a sizeable portion of the total sum when bail was set, but the court opted to preventatively seize over €2m worth of assets belonging to the defendants in order to cover the full €5.2m that was due. On Friday former Catalan president Artur Mas and his former ministers were expected to make a public statement following the Court of Auditors’ decision last week confirming the judgement on 9N and increasing the fine by €40k.
In addition, Caixa de Solidaritat has also paid €700k to Barcelona Court 13, the sum which seventeen of the defendants were due to pay. In fact, their back accounts were frozen when Caixa de Solidaritat initially failed to raise the €5.8m needed to post bail. Now the court’s injunction will be lifted and the defendants will regain access to their savings. Their financial assets were seized when the court refused to accept their homes and other real estate as collateral.
Caixa de Solidaritat, which has been led by former House Speakers Núria de Gispert and Ernest Benach since 2018, issued a celebratory statement thanking “the members of the public, grassroots groups and political parties who, once again, have helped to raise the necessary funds”. “We are very grateful for the ongoing efforts by the Catalan people to respond to the injustice that we are experiencing. We know that you are and will be there for us when necessary. This is what gives meaning to Caixa de Solidaritat and is an expression of the Catalan people’s spirit of solidarity and its yearning for freedom”. A total of €11m has been paid for these two cases alone.