15 Sep 2020
A court in the small European country of Andorra is to investigate former Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and some members of his government in relation to coercion accusations, in a case which stretches all the way to the US government.
The Andorran judiciary has accepted the complaint, filed by the country’s Institute of Human Rights, against former Spanish PM Rajoy and his ministers Cristòbal Montoro (finance) and Jorge Fernández Díaz (interior), as well as former interior ministry undersecretary Francisco Martínez. The claim is that the Spanish authorities threatened to close down an Andorran bank unless it provided them with politically-useful information – and when the bank refused, Spain put its threat into action, by reporting alleged money-laundering activities to the US Treasury department, which acted swiftly.
According to the newspaper Diari d’Andorra, this is an extension of the suit which the tiny Pyreneen mountain country’s human rights body presented in July 2019. That complaint asserted that the former Spanish PM and his then-ministers ordered pressure to be piled onto the leadership of the Banc Privat d’Andorra (BPA) to reveal details of claimed Andorran bank accounts in the names of Catalan politicians Artur Mas, Oriol Junqueras and the family of Jordi Pujol.
According to the private prosecution, the coercion, threatening the bank with closure if the required information was not provided, took place in the context of the official visit that Rajoy and Montoro made to Andorra in January 2015, when they met with the head of the Andorran government, Toni Martí, and ministers Jordi Cinca, Gilbert Saboya and Jordi Alcobé.
Human Rights of Andorra says the visit was intended to obtain information on Catalan pro-independence politicians. The Andorran court has decided to begin legal proceedings against the former Spanish leadership for all the offences of which they are accused in the private prosecution.
According to the initial complaint, in May and June 2014 three BPA executives were threatened, coerced and extorted by four Spanish police officers in an attempt to extract information on alleged bank accounts of Catalan pro-independence politicians under the threat that the “bank could end up being placed in intervention”, which is what eventually happened.
Read more at El Nacional
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