Police operation against 2017 referendum funders

Business people and politicians arrested by Guardia Civil

The Spanish police is carrying out an operation in Catalonia against businesspeople linked to independence. According to El Confidencial - and confirmed by ARA - this morning several searches and arrests are taking place as part of an investigation into the alleged diversion of funds from the Diputació de Barcelona to pro-independence organisations. Among those arrested were three high ranking politicians and a publisher and editor.

In a statement, the Catalan High Court of Justice explained that today 31 house searches are being carried out for crimes related to "corruption and/or public disorder". The mention of public disorder means there is a possibility the investigation is dealing with the "Tsunami Democràtic" although sources from the Guardia Civil deny it. There is already an investigation into the Tsunami which is in the hands of the Spanish High Court and is still in the investigative phase.

The investigations that have led to the police operation began a year and a half ago as a separate and secret part of the proceedings being conducted in the same court for the alleged diversion of funds from public subsidies, including some granted by the Diputació de Barcelona, to pro-independence entities.

The police operation began shortly before 8 am and has one of its epicentres in Igualada, where the house of publisher Oriol Soler is being searched as well as the company Events, in the industrial area of Les Comes, which was already searched before the 2017 referendum to look for ballots.

A key role with 1-O

The arrested played a key role in the 2017 referendum, forming part, to a greater or lesser extent, of the general staff that organised the vote. Two participated in the different meetings that were held in the so-called ' sanedrí', the secret body formed by political leaders and members of civil society which the Carles Puigdemont's government used to outsource preparations for the referendum.

They were also very influential among pro-independence leaders, and have acted as a link between different pro-independence parties when relations between them were not at their best.

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