Former IMF president given jail term for misappropriation of funds

Updated 2017-02-24 10:42:24 Xinhua

Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) president Rodrigo Rato was on Thursday found guilty of the misappropriation of funds and given a four-and-a-half year prison sentence.

The man, who had been deputy prime minister and Spanish finance minister in the People's Party, was one of 65 officials found guilty for using so-called "black credit cards" which were given to them when they worked for the Caja Madrid saving bank.

The bank was merged with other entities to form Bankia in December 2010.

Rato was the president of Bankia from December 2010 until resigning in May 2012, overseeing its controversial opening of trading on the Madrid Stock Exchange and resigning when the bank was revealed to need a multi-billion euro government bailout.

The black card trial began after it was discovered that Caja Madrid and Bankia executives were given credit cards which allowed the holders to draw money from a bank fund at Caja Madrid and later Bankia, with this money not appearing on any document or being declared in tax returns.

The defendants, including Rato and former Caja Madrid president Miguel Blesa, who received a six-year jail term, used the black cards to spend a total of 15.5 million euros (16.4 million U.S. dollars) on a range of items which ranged from expensive meals to wine and designer clothes.

Rato had insisted the cards were for discretionary spending as part of the executives' pay deal.

The case provoked a high level of public outrage in Spain given that much of this money was spent after the start of the economic crisis when Spain's banks were repossessing homes on a regular basis as people were unable to meet their mortgage repayments.

Blesa was shown to have spent 436,688 euros on his card, while Rato spent 99,054 euros in just two years. Others such as Idelfonso Sanchez Barcoj, who was Blesa's number two, spent over 570,000 euros.

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