BARCELONA – The regional vice-president and finance minister of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras, accused Spain’s national government on Friday of pressuring Catalonia-based banks to relocate their head offices amid fears of a unilateral declaration, although he insisted that such changes would be temporary.
In statements to Catalunya Radio, Junqueras spoke about Banco Sabadell’s decision to relocate its base to Alicante and CaixaBank’s board of directors meeting on Friday to decide if the bank will move out of Catalonia, most likely to Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands.
When asked if the decree prepared by the government to facilitate the express relocation of the headquarters of Catalan companies out of Catalonia was proof the government had pressured the banks, Junqueras replied: “Yes.”
Junqueras said that “when the government does these things, its harms itself. With the intention of increasing the costs of transition, they take decisions that are also counterproductive to the Spanish government.”
However, Junqueras explained that this decision “does not affect” the Catalan government’s dealing with these banks and that both the central services of CaixaBank as well as those of Sabadell and the rest of their operational centers remain in Catalonia.
To the question whether the president of Gas Natural Fenosa, Isidre Faine, and the president of Banco Sabadell, Josep Oliu, had spoken with him, Junqueras responded, without giving details about the people or the content of the conversations: “Almost all, yes, and not only by telephone.”
Junqueras remarked that the relocation of corporate headquarters was a temporary decision.
“We are in a global world, where people conduct operations with banks from all over the world,” the vice president said, highlighting the very good performance of the Catalan economy and its ability to attract foreign investment.
“We are setting records in foreign investment,” he added.
When questioned if the Catalan government asked both banks to move their bases to Catalan-speaking territories, Junqueras said the banks “take decisions they think fit,” and added, “it would be very presumptuous to attribute it to me.”