According to Spain’s Guardia Civil, approximately €1.9 million was spent on the alleged crime of misuse of public funds in the organization of the 1 October referendum. However the sums in the 10-page report do not add up. The Spanish police force now admits that there are at least two errors, to which must be added expenditure which previous reports mistakenly attributed to the referendum. Anyone adding up the figures will fail to get the same result, since it depends on what figures are taken as a reference.
This morning, the far-right political party Vox, who are acting as plaintiffs in the charges of rebellion, announced the decision by Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena to lift reporting restrictions on the separate charges of embezzlement. They announced to great fanfare that the figure of misappropriated funds, which originally stood at €1,602,001.57 when the judge announced the charges at the end of March, had risen to €1,915,067.22. In other words, an increase of over €300,000. It is the result of the separate investigations Llarena ordered at the time to try to provide more support for the charges of embezzlement, which only occupies one page in his conclusions and that are currently being called into question in Germany.
However, adding up the items listed in the report, one does not reach the same figure announced by Vox. The main problem is that, in the section dealing with Diplocat (1), the Guardia Civil makes two mistakes by adding alleged expenses that hadn’t been examined up until now. The figure that was spoken about at the time —and which appears in the judge’s preliminary statement— was for €119,700 that had supposedly been misused. The report now includes a payment undertaking of €47,365 for the end of November 2017, without specifying what it was intended for. The report claims that the Supreme Court was unaware of its existence up until now. Nevertheless, the Guardia Civil adds the figures up wrongly, and instead of €167,065, which is the sum of the two amounts, they state a total of €177,065.
A total of €25,287 more by mistake
The erroneous €10,000 inflates the amount of public money that Diplocat —a consortium which was disbanded on the orders of the Spanish government— allegedly spent on the referendum and, by extension, the total sum of misappropriated funds according to the Guardia Civil. This is not the only error, however. The police have a tendency to inflate the figures and, in the case of Diplocat, they have included an additional €25,287 that is unaccounted for elsewhere. The remaining €15,287 came from public funds that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Raül Romeva, presumably paid to international observers. The Guardia Civil was critical of the fact that it has been unable to obtain more details, specifically in terms of the number of observers, "due to Diplocat's refusal to provide information" and in spite of several police searches.
The report does list the amount spent on flights, hotels and expenses, however. Nevertheless, the total is incorrect once again. Supposedly €18,835.76 was spent on flights, €2,416 on hotels and €3,180.10 plus €872 on other expenses. This adds up to €25.303.86, but according to the Guardia Civil it amounts to €40,591.22.
Aside from the blunders in adding up the figures, the Guardia Civil admits to factual errors in the report which Judge Llarena used to charge Carles Puigdemont’s entire government with the crime of misappropriation of public funds. It is worth noting that the report is a summary of the information which has been collected and all parties have been issued an accompanying DVD with data that theoretically supports the information and the new figures.
The Guardia Civil’s report states that a previous report they sent to the Supreme Court declared that €40.227,78 had been spent on computer equipment for the call centre located at the CTTI [the Catalan government’s ICT centre], but they have since discovered that the Catalan authorities spent the money on purchasing computer hardware from Fujitsu and that determining whether it was used on the referendum will require further investigation.
Total = €1,932,757, or €1,907,470 if it is added up right
Adding up all the official figures presented by the Guardia Civil would give a total €1,932,757.42 allegedly misused. However, if the incorrect sums are subtracted, the final figure would stand at €1,907,470. Where do the extra €300,000 come from of the total that Llarena sees as destined for 1 October? The bulk of it comes from the alleged purchase of ballot papers from two companies, one in Igualada that was subject to a police search, and another in Bigues i Riells. However, they admit they are unable to obtain more details, since no judge is currently handling the case, as the original judge declined to pursue it due to the involvement of a French company. The Guardia Civil has also released figures that are subject to reporting restrictions in Barcelona’s Court of Instruction number 13, mainly relating to Unipost, prompting their legal teams to lodge a complaint.
The new figures are basically €61,879 which —according to the Guardia Civil— was paid to Òmnium Cultural in the form of subsidies that went to pay for posters, and €17,690.20 that Junts per Sí’s parliamentary group spent on the presentation of the referendum at the National Theatre of Catalonia, which was later searched by the Guardia Civil.
(1) The now-defunct Diplocat was the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia.