Supreme Court closes investigation into Puigdemont's management of Aigües de Girona

The judge follows the criteria of the Public Prosecutor's Office and does not see a criminal offence, but rather an administrative offence

The Supreme Court has closed the investigation against former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont for the management of Aigües de Girona, the local water company, when he was mayor of the city. When he obtained the status of MEP, the case went from Girona's Court number 2 to the Supreme Court. However, the Public Prosecutor's Office requested that the proceedings be closed as it saw no evidence of a crime. Puigdemont was being investigated for alleged malfeasance, fraud against the administration and false documentation for having used funds from the water tax to pay for 1,320 pieces from the Santos Torroella art collection, but neither the Public Prosecutor's Office nor judge Juan Ramón Berdugo saw any possible criminal offence; at most, it would be an administrative offence.

"It must be concluded that the first payment of the collection was made with funds from the canon collected for the water service concession, being a transfer of items contrary to the rules established in the law regulating local treasuries, a fact that constitutes an infraction to be assessed by the contentious-administrative jurisdiction. The administrative offence is, in principle, unquestionable. [...] It is clear, but we consider that there is no basis for considering that the facts to be evaluated were manifestly contrary to the legal system in form and substance," the judge said in his ruling.

The Supreme Court emphasises that the crime of prevarication applies when the administrative action is illegal and also "unjust and arbitrary", which does not correspond to this case, in its opinion. Thus, it emphasises that precedent establishes that criminal jurisdiction cannot "replace" the function of administrative jurisdiction in its task of "controlling the legality of the actions of the public administration". The crime of fraud against the administration is also ruled out because the judges do not perceive "the existence of an artifice to defraud Girona City Council, beyond the illegality of the operation carried out by Mr Puigdemont".

With regard to the crime of false documentation for having signed a mayoral decree on 22 May 2013 approving the contracting of the valuation study of the Santos Torroella collection, the judges point out that it is necessary for the authority or official in question to fail to tell the truth in the narration of the facts in a document. "It was not a simulated or false document in its entirety, but rather it responded to a real operation," they conclude.

The Supreme Court puts an end to this investigation, which has been dragging on for years and which the Public Prosecutor's Office accelerated when Puigdemont was president of the Generalitat. On 13 June 2018, the public prosecutor José Grinda, accompanied by plainclothes policemen, burst into Girona City Hall to request documentation on the Agissa case. A year earlier, the Anticorruption Office had taken over the investigation, which had been initiated by a complaint from the CUP in 2015 for alleged crimes of misappropriation committed by Girona SA, the private partner of the water company, and which would have begun in 1992, when the mayor was the socialist Joaquim Nadal.

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