Spanish PM wants to reform crime of embezzlement

by Lorraine Williamson

MADRID – In response to an amendment from the nationalist Catalan party ERC, the Spanish Prime Minister on Tuesday expressed his willingness to tackle the crime of embezzlement. 

The existence of personal or third-party profit will be emphasised in this and it will reduce the fines. Therefore, opponents of such a reform fear that it will favour corrupt politicians. Consequently, the socialist prime minister hinted at his willingness to look into it. This was during a meeting with journalists at the Spanish parliament. Furthermore, the PSOE will examine the ERC’s amendment. 

Various parties are submitting amendments in response to the proposal for a reform of the Penal Code. This will then be debated in parliament. The crime of embezzlement also comes up in this debate. 

Catalan nationalists want change 

This Friday is the deadline for parliamentarians to table their amendments to repeal the crime of sedition. Furthermore, the Republicans want to take advantage of this step in the process to make changes to embezzlement as well. Many Catalan pro-independence politicians have to deal with this. 

Gabriel Rufián, ERC spokesperson, explained his desire for the reform on November 15. He explained “it does not make sense that Junqueras, without any personal enrichment or structure of corruption, should be tried for embezzlement”. 

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Reform could benefit Catalan pro-independence politicians 

This reform could benefit Oriol Junqueras and three other ex-ministers convicted of embezzlement for calling for the illegal referendum on October 1, 2017. It could also benefit the former Catalonian president, Carles Puigdemont and the parliamentarians Toni Comin and Clara Ponsatí. 

The Court of Justice is also investigating other members of the Republican party who would benefit from this reform: Josep María Jové and Lluis Salvador. And the investigating judge number 13 is investigating one of the main causes of the trial on the basis of which some thirty pro-independence leaders are prosecuted for embezzlement. 

Possibly beneficial to corrupt politicians 

ERC spokesman Rufián admitted to being concerned that reforming the crime of embezzlement could benefit corrupt politicians. He was referring to Operation ‘Kitchen’, in which the Ministry of the Interior, together with the PP, allegedly used public funds to steal information from former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas. 

Moreover, other politicians who could benefit from embezzlement reform are those convicted in Andalucia’s ERE scandal. Among which is José Antonio Griñán, former president of the PSOE. 

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