Spain’s targeting of former Harvard professor sparks transatlantic outcry

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BARCELONA — In just two months, Andreu Mas-Colell, an internationally renowned economist and former Harvard professor, has gone from a peaceful retirement in his hometown of Barcelona to allegations by the Spanish state that could lead to the seizure of his assets.

Mr. Mas-Colell, 77, was Minister of the Economy of Catalonia, a prosperous region in northeastern Spain, from 2010 to 2016. He is accused by the Spanish Court of Auditors, an administrative control body public accounts, for participating in an alleged abuse of millions of euros by allegedly helping to promote Catalonia’s quest for independence from Spain, which resulted in an illegal referendum in 2017.

On Tuesday, the Court of Auditors fined Mr Mas-Colell up to € 2.8 million, or around $ 3.3 million, in proceedings against 34 former Catalan officials accused of illegally spending a total of 5.4 million euros. Defendants must pay heavy fines before they can appeal to the courts.

Mr. Mas-Colell, whose textbook of microeconomics is widely used in American universities, was a professor at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley, as well as in Spain. The charges against him sparked an uproar among fellow economists in the United States, Europe and Asia.

“Those of us who have treated Professor Mas-Colell for many years as colleagues, students and co-authors know that he is a person of the highest integrity,” wrote 54 of the world’s leading economists. whole in a letter published in Spanish. El País newspaper on June 22. Among the signatories were 33 Nobel Prize winners, including Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen and Robert Shiller.

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