Ex-IMF chief Rato faces trial over Spanish credit card use

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 01, 2016 10:01 AM

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's High Court said on Monday it will open a trial against former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato and dozens of other people alleged to have misused credit cards for personal expenses while at Spanish lender Bankia.

Rato, a former Spanish finance minister and one-time leadership contender for the centre-right People's Party, has denied wrongdoing in this case and in other investigations related to Bankia.

Prosecutors had been pushing for a four-and-a-half year prison sentence for Rato in the expenses case. He was chairman of the bank shortly before it needed a state bailout in 2012.

The bank's stock market listing, which took place under his watch in mid-2011, is also being investigated by the High Court, although that case has yet to go to trial.

Bankia needed a rescue less than a year later, and many ordinary Spaniards who had bought the shares lost money.

The court said in a statement that Miguel Blesa, Rato's predecessor at Caja Madrid, which merged with other banks to form Bankia in 2011, would also go on trial in the expenses case, along with 64 other people.

The Spanish prosecutor had called for a six year prison sentence and 9.34 million euros in damages for Blesa, who also denies any wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Rodrigo de Miguel; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Sarah White and Alexander Smith)