The arrival of Laura Borràs as the director of the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes (ILC) in 2013 brought about a notable change in the hiring practices of the public body, dependent on the Generalitat. The division of minor contracts went from 8% to 51% in one year, according to a report by the Intervention of the Department of Culture, which warned Borràs in writing in the spring of 2014 that contracts “cannot be divided to reduce their amount and thus avoid advertising requirements. A few days later, the intervenor, Blanca De Gispert, transferred those conclusions in person to the current president of the Parliament, who ignored them.
EL PAÍS has agreed to three audits ―corresponding to the years 2013, 2014 and 2015― carried out by the Intervention on the accounts of the Government body that promotes literary creation in Catalan. The documents have been provided this week by the official Roger E., investigated in the legal case that has left the President of the Parliament one step away from the bench. The leader of Junts is prosecuted for crimes of corruption – embezzlement, prevarication, fraud and falsehood – for dividing 18 contracts, worth more than 300,000 euros, to benefit a friend of hers, the computer scientist Isaías H. The allegedly fraudulent awards spread until 2017, three years after receiving the first notices and one before leaving the leadership of the ILC.
Roger E., who was responsible for administrative management and continues to work at the agency, may have given Borràs the last straw, whose political career hangs in the balance. Until now, the four investigated had taken advantage of their right not to testify; the president of the Parliament, with the argument that she is the victim of a “political persecution”. The official has broken the silence. After changing his lawyer and strategy, he believes that the best way to avoid a possible penalty of disqualification – which would remove him from public office – is to tell what he knows.
The official gave a detailed statement last week before the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), explanations that are included in the audios that are reproduced in this news.
He explained that, as ILC’s head of contracting, Borràs gave him instructions on who he should award the jobs under suspicion. He also detailed the angry reaction of the independence leader after attending her meeting with her, in person, at the headquarters of the Intervention, where in 2014 the need not to split contracts was transferred to him. Roger E. mentioned to the judge the existence of the audits – which he had found in a closet – and promised to provide them.
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The reports analyze minor contracts and, in particular, if they are “of a repetitive nature” and if “the contractual object is fragmented”, a practice prohibited by law.
The first of them, about the year 2013, confirms that there are two successful bidders: Isaías H. and a company (Xarxa Integral de Professionals i Usuàries) which, according to the judicial investigation, was one of the fronts used by the computer scientist to invoice the works. related to the web portal of the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes. That is the second problem: if the real object of the work is the same, it cannot be divided as if it were different services with the sole objective of awarding them by hand and avoiding competition.
Laura Borràs signed the delivery of allegations to the Intervention and explained that the contracts were linked to “three major activities” that she launched in 2013 and that they were “very clearly differentiated”: her own website as a “showcase and dissemination of Catalan literature” , the “Any Vinyoli commemoration” for the centenary of the poet’s birth, and the program what did you get. Borràs highlights that the two successful bidders (Isaías H. and the Xarxa) have carried out “actions in the architecture, design and implementation of the portal” of the ILC. “There is no division of object, but it is about specific tasks well differentiated and carried out by different professionals of computer specialties”.
The 2014 auditor (Ramon Gardó) observes “the possibility of division and accumulation” in a list of the works attributed to Isaías H. directly or through intermediaries and appreciates “continuity of files initiated in the previous year”. That of 2015 (Francesc Casanovas) does not see “a significant percentage of subdivisions”, but recommends “reducing the volume of expenditure contracted directly”, that is, by finger: 864 for 619,680 euros, all of that year.
Borràs not only ignored the intervention, but also those responsible for the ILC. Assumpta P., head of administration, testified a few months ago as a witness before the judge who warned the President of Parliament on several occasions that the work of Isaías H. “could be related” and “suggested” the possibility of processing them as a single negotiated procedure. The director refused.
The central test: the couriers
The main evidence of the investigation is the emails exchanged between Borràs and Isaías H., in which the President of the Parliament tells him how to invoice and how to present different offers using companies. Borràs’s phrases are eloquent: “The budget has to be detailed as if they were independent professionals because the totals cannot exceed 18,000 euros (2013). “For each budget of yours, I have to make three more, with different fonts and formats” (2014).
Roger E., the official, will also deliver two audio files that Borràs sent him in 2018, when he had already been appointed Minister of Culture by President Quim Torra. In the first audio, from February, Borràs tells the official that she has learned that the Mossos have gone to the ILC to request files on the contracts of Isaías H. By then, the regional police were already on the trail of the alleged irregularities . The leader of Junts per Catalunya asked him to let her know if they went back there. The Mossos would end up searching the ILC headquarters a few months later; Borràs affirmed that the Minister of the Interior, Miquel Buch, had previously informed him that she was being investigated. In the second, in June, already as Minister of Culture, she was interested in the pending invoices of her friend Isaías.
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