Police raid houses of long-time Catalan president in Spain

MADRID: Spanish police on Tuesday raided more than a dozen houses and offices of the family of Jordi Pujol, former longtime leader of Spain's Catalonia region, in a money-laundering and tax fraud probe.

A National Police spokeswoman said that some 200 agents took part in the searches in the northeastern Catalan capital of Barcelona and in Madrid.

She spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with police regulations.

The probe centers on the origin of a family fortune that was hidden in Andorra for several decades, as well as the business dealings of three of his sons.

Pujol, 85, founded Catalonia's Convergence party that governs the economically powerful region. He was the region's president from 1980 to 2003 and is considered the father of the Catalan nationalist movement. His house was one of those searched Tuesday.

There were no immediate reports of arrests.

The operation comes a week after police made arrests and carried out raids on a Catalan regional government office and the Convergence party headquarters in a separate probe into the party's finances.

The party is currently headed by acting regional government President Artur Mas, a protege of Pujol and the person at the center of the region's drive for independence from Spain.

The Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia and other media outlets cited unidentified police sources as saying Tuesday's operation came after a National Court investigative magistrate handling the case received new information from Andorra concerning movements of money to and from bank accounts there.

Appearing in Catalonia's parliament last year, Pujol declared he was not corrupt during his 23 years in power but he did not disclose details about the family's wealth.