The ease with which David Madí and Xavier Vendrell texted or called councilors of the Generalitat can be surprising. After half a life in politics, years ago the former right-hand man of Artur Mas and the former ERC minister went into the background, but keeping their contacts in the front line intact. The judge in the Voloh case suspects that they were not only courtesy calls, but show that both former leaders used their influence to further their private businesses.
Madí, Vendrell and Soler, the strategists in the shadow of the pro-independence engine room
The successive reports that the Civil Guard has contributed to the Voloh case based on the telephone interventions and chats of Madí and Vendrell serve Judge Joaquín Aguirre to support his accusation of influence peddling and embezzlement, among other crimes. But for the defenses of the case they are nothing more than private conversations about the business activity of the two former leaders, who were part of the sanhedrin of politicians that organized the 1-O vote.
Against all odds, the defenses have encountered passivity in the case of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office which, far from assuming a leading role in the case and requesting proceedings from the investigating judge, has remained in the background to the point that the prosecutor Fernando Maldonado did not appear for the voluntary declaration that Madí made last July.
It remains to be seen if the Civil Guard finds any new evidence on the telephones, computers and emails that were seized from the detainees that could make the Public Ministry change its position. At the moment, the Armed Institute has delivered 70 of the 137 planned reports to the court. The judge has extended his investigation for another six months, given the indications of the “criminal operations in which they would be involved” Madí and Vendrell, who believe that they used their power of influence with the Catalan authorities to benefit their private businesses, linked among others to the VTC sector or to biomechanical laboratories.
Vendrell came to eat with the former Minister of Health, Alba Vergès, for a contest to which one of his companies was opting, but his Republican past did not prevent him from contacting Junts councilors as well. The intervened chats highlight contacts in 2019 between Vendrell and the then Minister of Territory and Sustainability, Damià Calvet, whom he contacted to inquire about negotiations involving Joan Griñó, a businessman in the sector of energy generation plants in treatment plants .
“Griñó tells me that the situation around the Riba-roja landfill is getting messy and asks me to help out with the people of Esquerra. Before doing so, I wanted to talk to you so as not to do or say anything inappropriate,” Vendrell told him to Calvet. Months later he would write to Calvet again to ask for a meeting to discuss the situation of Villa Bugatti, a farmhouse in the Maresme region in which the Republican maintains a wedding banquet business and in which, according to the judge, Vendrell gave an urban hit by doubling its value.
The Civil Guard, in one of its reports, also includes Vendrell’s efforts to “enter the business of the Cardona mines”, exploited by the Iberpotash company, whose lawyer is the former mayor of Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona) Lluís Recoder . “To advance in his projects, Vendrell got in touch with Albert Castellanos – the former number two of the Ministry of Economy – and with the secretary general of agriculture, David Mascort, so that he in turn interceded with the general director of the Institut Català de Finances, Anna Álvarez, to obtain a loan from Griñó of one million euros “, assures the Armed Institute.
The report removes old acquaintances from Catalan politics from oblivion. According to the Civil Guard, the ex-minister of Convergència Felip Puig “pressured” Vendrell to “convince” the mayor of Lleida, the republican Miquel Pueyo, to “unravel” a shopping center project, a task to which he allegedly committed but with “discretion in case his party found out.” Vendrell’s messages show that one of his partners forwarded him a message in which he asked that “someone from PDeCAT with power and ancestry stop Toni Postius”, Deputy Mayor for Urban Planning in Lleida, who “was hindering the urban approval” of the operation.
Madí, waiting to be summoned
Regarding Madí, his most relevant businesses that the summary of the case shows did not prosper. Together with a partner, he met in 2015 with Calvet as a consultant for a VTC multinational to try to reactivate the licenses of vehicles with a driver, but finally the legislation passed went against the interests of companies such as Uber or Cabify. The Civil Guard considers that Madí’s intention was to evade the legal obligation to pre-hire 15 minutes in advance, which was finally approved.
Through the company Global Omnium -of which Aguas de Catalunya is a subsidiary, chaired by Madí-, the ex-man of trust of Artur Mas also tried to sign a contract with the Ministry of Justice to analyze the presence of COVID-19 in the waters residuals from Catalan prisons, but the operation was unsuccessful. Nor is the attempt by Aguas de Catalunya to take over Agbar, of which Madí also speaks in some intercepted conversations.
However, the judge and the Civil Guard have found a new thread to pull. This is a conversation between David Madí and the attorney of a consulting firm, in which he assures that, with the Foment del Treball employer association of which he is a part, he met with Iván Redondo, former chief of staff of the Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, to address the functioning of European funds.
Despite the fact that the employer has denied that the meeting, in which more than a dozen businessmen participated, served to distribute the funds and has framed it in their usual institutional meetings, the judge intends to summon Madí again to explain this conversation and has sent it to the EPPO. There is a Voloh case for a while.