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  • Former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato after testifiying in the Gurtel corruption case at the high court in San Fernando de Henares, outside Madrid, Spain Jun. 20, 2017.

    Former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato after testifiying in the Gurtel corruption case at the high court in San Fernando de Henares, outside Madrid, Spain Jun. 20, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 October 2018

Rodrigo Rato was tried with 64 former executives and board members for misusing a total of US$13.8 million between 2003 and 2012.

Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Rodrigo Rato to four-and-a-half years imprisonment Wednesday on charges of misusing funds.

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In February 2017, Rato was found guilty by Spain's Supreme Court of paying for personal expenses with company credit cards when he was the chief of Caja Madrid and the state-owned lender Bankia during a time when both the banks faced financial difficulties.

Rato was an economy minister in Spain between 1996 and 2004 and a prominent politician in the ruling People’s Party before becoming the IMF chief. He was free on bail since 2017 pending an appeal, but was found guilty alongside 64 former executives and board members for embezzling a total of US$13.8 million between 2003 and 2012.

Spanish political party Podemos welcomed the court decision, saying Spaniards had long demanded justice, tweeting, "the citizens demanded justice for those who robbed public money, ripped off thousands of families, and burdened us with debt for life." 

The embezzlment — famously known as the “black-cards” scandal — broke in 2014 resulting in public outrage. It was discovered that the cards were used to buy jewelry and clothes ,and pay for vacations, according to documents filed with Spain’s high court.

Thousands of small-scale investors lost their money after they were persuaded to convert their savings to shares ahead of the flotation of Bankia in 2011, with Rato at the reins. Less than a year later, he resigned when it became public knowledge that Bankia was in dire straits.

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