"It was standard practice"
Day one of the Palau trial (1) and Fèlix Millet didn’t mince his words: he was the intermediary between the Ferrovial construction company and the CDC’s treasurer. The payments were made in return for public works contracts. They got the money back, naturally, through cost overruns and were, therefore, paid out of the public purse. In other words, by you, the astonished citizen, who increasingly feels like you’ve seen it all.
The fact that Millet is untrustworthy is obvious thanks to his confession of having plundered the Palau, his spell in prison decades ago following a real estate scam and the stories of how he used to steal sweets off his brothers and sisters. However, Millet’s moral standing in no way diminishes the seriousness of his accusations. The statements made in court by Millet and Gemma Montull are not only disturbing for what they said but for how they said it. The prosecutor had to "remind" Millet that 7 million euros are still unaccounted for. In spite of the fact that he admitted to having made a few "mistakes", it was clear that Millet was the boss of the Palau and that things had always been done that way. Gemma Montull talked about conducting business with brown envelopes, the comings and goings of cash and paying for holidays and luxury goods, calling it "standard practice". I beg to differ. There’s nothing "standard" about it.
The trial has only just begun and it will be for the judges to decide where criminal liability ultimately lies. But political accountability also matters. The case will not weaken the desire for independence in Catalonia, contrary to what some politicians may think. But it places PDECat squarely at the crossroads between the old and the new. Between renewal and "business as usual”.
(1) The former top executives of Barcelona’s Palau de la Música are being tried for embezzling millions in funds belonging to the institution they managed. The defendants claim that a good deal of the money came from a slush fund set up by large construction companies in exchange for government contracts.