Former IMF Chief Sent To Jail As Spain Prosecutes 65 Elite Bankers In Enormous Corruption Scandal
By Matt Agorist
In many other countries, excluding the United States, corrupt bankers are often brought to task by their respective governments. The most recent example of a corrupt banker being held accountable comes our of Spain, in which the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Rodrigo Rato was sentenced to four years and six months behind bars.
According to the AFP, Spain’s National Court, which deals with corruption and financial crime cases, said he had been found guilty of embezzlement when he headed up Caja Madrid and Bankia, at a time when both groups were having difficulties.
Rato, who is tied to a slew of other allegations was convicted and sentenced for misusing €12m between 2003 and 2012 — sometimes splashing out at the height of Spain’s economic crisis, according to the AFP.
The people of Spain were outraged over the scandal as it was discovered during the height of a severe financial crisis in which banks were receiving millions in taxpayer dollars. Bankia was eventually nationalized and given 22 billion in public money.
Although he was sentenced, Rato, who is also a former Spanish economy minister, remains at liberty pending a possible appeal because of highly connected elite status.
Rato was brought down in a massive effort by Spain to get rid of corruption within the banking system. The problem had gotten so bad, that Spain decided to clean house, and 65 people, include Rato, were brought to task.
According to the AFP, they were accused of having paid for personal expenses with credit cards put at their disposal by both Caja Madrid and Bankia, without ever justifying them or declaring them to tax authorities. These expenses included petrol for their cars, supermarket shopping, holidays, luxury bags or parties in nightclubs.
According to the indictment, Rato maintained the “corrupt system” established by his predecessor Miguel Blesa when he took the reins of Caja Madrid in 2010, reports the AFP. He then replicated the system when he took charge of Bankia, a group born in 2011 out of the merger of Caja Madrid with six other savings banks, prosecutors said.
According to the report:
Rato was economy minister and deputy prime minister in the conservative government of Jose Maria Aznar from 1996 to 2004, before going on to head up the IMF until 2007. His subsequent career as a banker was short-lived — from 2010 to 2012 — but apart from the credit cards case, it also led to another banking scandal considered the country’s biggest ever.
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 as it became known that Bankia was in dire straits.
The state injected billions of euros but faced with the scale of Bankia’s losses and trouble at other banks, it asked the EU for a bailout for the banking sector and eventually received €41bn.
Rato and others were probed, accused of misleading small investors in the listing of Bankia, which has since paid out €1.2bn in compensation.
To highlight the utter corruption within the banking cartel that is the IMF, Rato is the third former chief to be ousted for illegal activity.
For those who don’t remember, Rato’s successor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was tried in 2015 on pimping charges in a lurid sex scandal. Naturally, he was acquitted — in spite of the fact that he admitted to engaging in illicit sex with prostitutes at a series of orgies that supposedly took place at the Hotel Carlton in the northern French city of Lille. The court sided with DSK and agreed that he had no idea the women he repeatedly filled the orgies with were being paid.
Christine Lagarde, who took over from Strauss-Kahn and is the current IMF chief, In December, was found guilty of “negligence” for approving a massive government payout to business tycoon Bernard Tapie during her tenure as French finance minister.
Despite being found guilty of corruption, Lagarde was not sentenced to a single day in jail. She has since been meeting with Trump’s Goldman Sachs-connected Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, noting that they’ve had “some very positive discussions.”
About the Author
Matt Agorist is the co-founder of TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared. He is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. . and now on Steemit
Spain Sets Massive Precedent – Charges Its Central Bankers in Court
First, Iceland, and now Spain has taken on the Big Bankers responsible for financial calamity, as the country’s highest national court charged the former head of Spain’s central bank, a market regulator, and five other banking officials over a failed bank leading to the loss of millions of euros for smaller investors.
This, of course, markedly departs from the mammoth taxpayer giveaway — commonly referred to as the bailout — approved by the U.S. government ostensively to “save” the Big Banks and, albeit unstated, allow the enormous institutions to continue bilking customers without the slightest fear of penalty.
Errant bankers and financiers, it would seem, typically manage to either evade actually being charged, or escape hefty fines and time behind bars.
Spain’s Supreme Court last year ruled “serious inaccuracies” in information about the listing led investors to back Bankia in error, thus the bank has since paid out millions of euros in compensation.
But Spanish authorities could not abide the telling findings of a yearslong investigation into the failed listing, as Wolf Street explains,
“As part of the epic, multi-year criminal investigation into the doomed IPO of Spain’s frankenbank Bankia – which had been assembled from the festering corpses of seven already defunct saving banks – Spain’s national court called to testify six current and former directors of the Bank of Spain, including its former governor, Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, and its former deputy governor (and current head of the Bank of International Settlements’ Financial Stability Institute), Fernando Restoy. It also summoned for questioning Julio Segura, the former president of Spain’s financial markets regulator, the CNMV [National Securities Market Commission] (the Spanish equivalent of the SEC in the US).
“The six central bankers and one financial regulator stand accused of authorizing the public launch of Bankia in 2011 despite repeated warnings from the Bank of Spain’s own team of inspectors that the banking group was ‘unviable.’”
As AFP reports, “The National Court validated conclusions made by prosecutors who concluded that when ‘an unviable entity has been listed on the stock market, its administrators or auditor should not shoulder all the responsibility.’”
Specifics of the charges have not yet been made apparent, but as The Economist reports:
“The court is questioning why they allowed Bankia to sell shares in an initial public offering in 2011, less than a year before Bankia’s portfolio of bad mortgage loans forced the government to seize control of it. It said there was evidence the regulators had ‘full and thorough knowledge’ of Bankia’s plight. After its nationalisation, it went on to report a €19.2bn ($24.7bn) loss for 2012, the largest in Spanish corporate history.”
Internal emails and documents played a crucial role in ultimately bringing the central banking officials to task for the failure of Bankia — inspectors bringing issues to the attention of superiors were allegedly ignored. One email cited by the Economist came from an inspector who warned Bankia was “a money-losing machine,” for which an IPO would not solve.
Another report, deemed “devastating by the court,” saw an inspector advise Bankia to seek a private buyer rather than proceed with the listing.
An inquiry into “the participation of other players, such as officials in the central bank,” was also urged by the National Court.
As the Economist points out, Spanish judges are generally reluctant to sentence first-time financial criminals to prison; though five Novacaixagalicia executives had five-year suspended sentences — levied for embezzlement in 2015 — abruptly enforced in January.
Meanwhile, taxpayers in the United States have yet to see Big Bankers criminally responsible for the financial ruin of so many Americans brought to any semblance of justice for their wrongdoing.