The Popular Party (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy performed a volte-face on Tuesday over whether or not to haul Rodrigo Rato, the former chief of Bankia, which was nationalized in May, before Congress to explain the bank's spectacular demise.
The PP hierarchy had previously appeared reluctant to order Rato, a former economy minister under the government of José María Aznar, to the floor of the lower chamber but the chain of events since Bankia's implosion — and Rato's insistence on Tuesday that he wished to appear "as soon as possible" — has forced the government's hand.
The party's parliamentary group, on the other hand, had expressed its support for the motion against Rato.
Last Wednesday, High Court Judge Fernando Andreu named 33 former and current board members of Bankia and its parent company, Banco Financiero y de Ahorros (BFA), as suspects following a criminal complaint lodged by the UPyD.
Now, Rato will be afforded his say. But the former deputy prime minister will not be alone; 23 further public office-holders and savings bank executives have been called to Congress by the PP, including former Socialist Economy Ministers Pedro Solbes and Elena Salgado and the incumbent Luis de Guindos; the secretary of state for the economy, Fernando Jiménez Latorre and his predecessor José Manuel Campa and the current and former governors of the bank of Spain, Luis María Linde and Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez.
The chiefs of all the Spanish banks that have been nationalized will also be grilled. PP spokesman Alfonso Alonso said Tuesday that Rato would be among the first to face Congress. "It is in our interest that their information allows us to understand with absolute transparency what has happened," Alonso said. The Socialists expressed satisfaction that the PP had reacted to parliamentary pressure, although spokeswoman Soraya Rodríguez noted it had done so "late, poorly and swept along by events."