The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia has closed the investigation against the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, for the second time, and has once again placed her one step away from the oral trial for the alleged crimes of continued crime of administrative prevarication, administrative fraud, falsehood in a commercial document and continued crime of embezzlement of public funds when the current president of JuntsxCat presided over the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes (ILC).
In an interlocutory, the investigating judge of the case, Jordi Seguí, has dismissed the appeals raised by Borràs and two other defendants at the close of the March investigation alleging violation of the right of defence. The judge, who then admitted the appeal, now rejects it and gives the Prosecutor 10 days to request the opening of an oral trial against Borràs and present his indictment or the dismissal of the case, or exceptionally, the practice of steps that it considers essential to formulate the accusation. I followed admits that before this decision it is possible to appeal before the same room or reform within five days.
The judge maintains in today’s order that the circumstantial facts exposed would show that Laura Borràs abused the functions that she had recognized as director of the ILC by issuing unfair resolutions when approving the awards of eighteen minor contracts, with full awareness that the awards they contradicted the requirements of the legislation regulating public sector contracts, omitting a true competition to only favor the interests of Isaías H. to the detriment of the defense of the general interests that he had to defend.
Will he lose his seat?
The decision raises a question about the political future of the president of the Parliament and of JuntsxCat, since her seat in the Catalan Chamber could be in danger by virtue of article 25.4 of the Parliament’s regulations, which refers to the suspension of the rights of deputies and deputies in the event that an oral trial is opened for a corruption case, an article that Borràs intended to eliminate in a future reform.
In recent months, Borràs has reiterated that she does not feel “challenged” by this article, since she defends that she has neither committed a crime nor committed any fraud, and has asked the groups, especially the independentistas (ERC and CUP) “not act as judges. These groups have not taken a position on the specific question of Borràs and have already announced that they would not do so until the time comes, but they have refused to reform the regulation in the sense that the president proposes.
We will have to see what happens in the Catalan Chamber when the investigating judge issues an order to open an oral trial, if he finally does, since it is the Parliamentary Board, chaired by Borràs and with a pro-independence majority, which at that time must agree the suspension of parliamentary rights and duties immediately. In case of doubt, the regulation urges to request an opinion from the Statute Commission of the Diputat, which would be voted on at the table and in plenary. The doubt would lie in whether it is considered that the accusations are for corruption, an extreme that the investigated has denied at all times.
Fractionation of 18 contracts to Isaías Herrero
In the closing order of the investigation, the judge indicates that Borràs hired a friend of his, Isaías Herrero, to be in charge of the maintenance of the institution’s website and divided the contracts to be able to award them by hand and avoid the call for a public contest.
In the 18 minor contracts -says the order- “Borràs intervened in her capacity as director of the ILC, proposing the contracting, agreeing on the award, approving the expense, certifying the execution of the service, forming the corresponding invoice and finally authorizing the payment” except one for failure to present the invoice.
Borràs and Herrero had maintained a previous professional relationship, since they had coincided in a research group for literary studies and digital technology and he had worked as a professor in the master’s degree that she taught at the University of Barcelona.
In total, 18 contracts were awarded for a total value of 260,000 euros. According to the judge, both were arranged to simulate a concurrence of offers for which third parties were used.
Mails and conversations: From “browns” and “trapis”
According to the car known this Wednesday, shortly after being appointed director of the ILC Laura Borràs, who at that time presented Isaías Herrero to the entity’s staff as responsible for the institution’s website, received an email from him in the which exposes him “I understand that there are 3 different budgets and the first divided into 3 parts in order to be able to charge it separately, right? If they are different budgets, I will be able to collect via Coop, €18,000 from the portal (and the rest I look for a living). Or does the condition of not invoicing the same client encompass the entire project, that is, the 64,000?
Laura Borràs then replied: “You explain yourself perfectly and I would say that they do not allow the same supplier to be billed for different concepts. Each supplier, at least for this year, of course, must invoice a concept”. Isaías H. answers by saying “understood, then I can start knocking on doors to get bills…since I have to involve someone to cover moodle and publications”.
In another email, Isaías Herrero shows his discomfort at having to resort to this “trapi”. “The truth is that it seems strange and complicated to me to have to make this trapi… I know what it is, but put yourself in my place, having to wrap several people so that they make me invoices of 3 kilos!!! …” exposes Herrero, who takes the opportunity to ask for a “more elegant” alternative.
Borràs responded that “if they see that what has been done is to divide a complete order into different packages, that is when they think that there is an infraction” and adds that “the question is to divide, then, each one of the concepts so that it is clear that They are like parts that have to be assembled together”.
In a telephone conversation on November 6, 2017, Isaías Herrero explained to MGT his fear that as a result of the intervention of the Generalitat in application of article 155 of the Constitution, an economic investigation would reveal “browns, because I have one of brown”, explaining that in the contracting of the services that he provided for the ILC he had to make “two good budgets and four not good ones”. “Because I with Borràs, with the boss, I bill with the cooperative, I bill some trapis over there,” the investigator insisted.