Ex IMF Chief Goes On Trial For Fraud

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Ex IMF Chief Goes On Trial For Fraud

Former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato along with 64 other bankers have gone on trial in Madrid over an alleged credit card racket at Spain’s Bankia bank.

Charged with using company credit cards for personal spending, prosecutors say around €12m (£10.4m; $13.5m) was spent on hotels, fine clothes, entertainment and travel from 2003 and 2012.

If found guilty Rato, Spain’s ex-finance minister, could face a €2.7m fine as well as jail.

Press TV reports:

Prosecutors requested a four-and-a-half year jail sentence for Rato, who has pleaded innocent. Rato led the formation of Bankia by merging Caja Madrid with other banks.

They are also pushing for a six-year sentence and 9.3 million euros in damages for Miguel Blesa, who was the head of Caja Madrid from 1996 to 2010. Blesa also denied any wrongdoing in the case dubbed “black cards.”

The scandal which came to light in 2014 angered Spaniards who had lost money after Bankia’s near-collapse sparked an EU bailout of Spain’s financial sector in 2012.

On Monday, a group of angry Spaniards gathered outside the court near Madrid, denouncing Rato and Blesa and shouting insults at them upon their arrival.

A court spokeswoman said Blesa will return on Friday to testify, while Rato is likely returning early next week.

Blesa’s lawyer, Carlos Aguilar, defended his client in the court session, saying the evidence presented was “invalid” since they infringed on the accused’s rights, according to El Pais newspaper.

Previous court statements reported that Rato had returned the nearly 100,000 euros he embezzled.

Niamh Harris
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