MADRID (AP) — Spain's Interior Ministry defended its department head Monday for meeting with Rodrigo Rato, the former International Monetary Fund chief suspected of fraud and money laundering.
The ministry said in a statement that Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz and Rato discussed "exclusively personal" matters at their meeting on July 29 and did not talk about the allegations against Rato which stem from his time as chief executive of Spanish lender Bankia. The bank had to be bailed out by the Spanish government in 2012.
Prior to his time at the IMF between 2004 and 2007, Rato was Spain's economy minister and a legendary figure in the country's ruling Popular Party.
Spanish opposition leaders called for Fernandez Diaz to appear in Parliament to answer questions about the meeting that was revealed by the El Mundo newspaper.
The ministry said Rato had asked for the meeting and that officials decided to hold it at the ministry instead of elsewhere because doing so "guaranteed full transparency and that there was nothing to hide."