SPAIN’s Court of Auditors (CA) is pursuing around 40 former Catalan Government officials for €5.4 million (£4.6m) in costs for promoting the push for independence abroad between 2011 and 2017.

Former Catalan president Artur Mas and former finance minister ­Andreu Mas-Colell face a €2.8m (£2.4m) claim, for public funds they allegedly spent from 2011-2016 on ­international trips and government offices abroad.

Exiled former president Carles ­Puigdemont and his vice-president Oriol Junqueras, are being hit with a €1.98m (£1.7m) bill for 2016-17 when they held office during the independence referendum that Spain declared illegal, and subsequent declaration of independence.

Among the 40 under investigation are some of those politicians who spent more than three years in prison for their part in the indyref and who were pardoned last week – including Junqueras.

The CA has also examined the ­public funds allegedly spent by ­Diplocat, a semi-public consortium aimed at promoting Catalonia’s ­interests abroad, which encompasses the government, local and regional ­authorities, trade unions, ­universities, and FC ­Barcelona.

Albert Royo, the former secretary-general of Diplocat, faces a €3.63m (£3.1m) claim from the Court of ­Auditors, more than any other single defendant.

The second-largest fine of €3.16m (£2.7m) goes to Mireia Vidal, who was auditor general of the Catalan government from 2011 to 2016, and was tasked with monitoring public spending.

Diplocat and most government ­offices abroad were shut down by Spanish authorities in autumn 2017 after they were deemed to be propaganda tools. They reopened in 2018 when pro-indy parties regained ­control of the Catalan government.

The current Catalan government has hit back over the fines, saying the CA is “not a court nor … part of the judiciary” but is an accounting body responsible for the financial management of the Spanish state and the public sector.

It answers directly to the Spanish Parliament and has two roles – to audit the public sector and prosecute the accounting liability of those who cause damage to the public accounts.

The Spanish government is an ­active part of the CA through the state’s solicitor general’s office which answers to the Ministry of Justice.

Although not a court, the Catalan government said the CA acts “in ­parallel and sometimes contradicts it”, and as an example of absolved individuals convicted by the courts it named Anna Botella, the wife of the former president of the Spanish ­government José María Aznar.

However, the CA has also ­convicted previously absolved ­individuals, such as bails imposed on Mas. “Its ­performance ends up causing ­punitive effects on the accused ­persons, but without the guarantee of an ordinary legal proceeding,” said the Catalan government.

Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer for MEP Puigdemont who is based in Belgium, said he would launch an appeal to the Belgian courts.

Mas was tried and convicted over the non-binding November 2014 ­indyref, which led to his house being seized four years ago, and said Spain was seeking “revenge and ­repression”.

He said: “The state is pursuing our political and civil death, which is the economic ruin of several people who have ideas.

“First they make you pay and then they judge you. And if you can’t pay, then they’ll seize you.”