BARCELONA – A Spanish court sentenced on Monday the former leaders of a non-profit foundation related to Barcelona’s iconic concert hall to prison for siphoning off millions of euros for personal expenses, in a case that also involved the payment of kickbacks to an important Catalan nationalist party.
The Barcelona court imposed a prison sentence of nine years and eight months on Félix Millet, the ex-president of the foundation linked to the city’s famous modernist Palau de la Música Catalana, while condemning Millet’s right-hand man, Jordi Montull, to seven years and six months’ jail time for ongoing corruption between 2000-2009.
Millet, who presided the Orfeó Català – Palau de la Música Catalana foundation between 1990-2009, was found guilty of misappropriation, embezzlement, document forgery, influence peddling and money laundering and was ordered to pay a fine of 4.12 million euros ($5.06 million).
The verdict also confirmed that the Catalan center-right nationalist party Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (“Democratic Convergence of Catalonia”) – which has governed the northeastern Spanish region for 30 out of the last 37 years – profited from a scheme in which it received illicit payments from one of Spain’s biggest construction companies in exchange for rigging public contracts.
CDC’s former treasurer, Daniel Osácar, was sentenced to four years and five months for accepting kickbacks from construction and infrastructure giant Ferrovial, which the court found had funneled at least 6.6 million euros over a decade to the party’s slush fund via donations to the Orfeó Català chaired by Millet, who pocketed his own share of the loot.
According to Millet’s explosive confession during the trial last year, Ferrovial donated four percent of the cost of allocated public infrastructure contracts to the concert hall’s foundation.
CDC received 2.5 percent and the remaining 1.5 percent ended up in the hands of Millet and Montull (divided into 80 percent for the former and 20 for the latter) for their role as intermediaries.
Montull’s daughter, Gemma Montull, was sentenced to four years, six months and 22 days in prison for falsifying the non-profit’s accounting records in her capacity as the music venue’s financial director.
Former Ferrovial executives Pedro Buenaventura and Juan Elizaga were absolved due to the statute of limitations period having elapsed.
In his 47-page final report, judge Josep Maria Pijuan said Millet and the Montulls “plundered” the institution’s funds to pay for costly renovations of their private homes and expensive personal trips, as well as awarding themselves a one-million-euro cash bonus at the end of each year, with the total amount stolen nearing 26 million euros.
The Palau de la Música, completed in 1908, is a cultural icon of the Catalan bourgeoisie, having resulted from the 19th-century revivalist movement known as the “Renaixença” (Catalan Renaissance). Designed by the influential Art Nouveau architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, its construction was financed through the Orfeó Català choral society, which was co-founded by Millet’s great-grandfather, the composer Lluís Millet.