BANKING SCANDAL

Prosecutor seeks to quash decision to send former Caja Madrid banker to jail

Public attorney’s office considering whether to file suit against judge who issued order alleging breach of official duties

The Madrid Prosecutor’s Office is to appeal the decision by Judge Elpidio José Silva to send the former chairman of Caja de Madrid, Miguel Blesa, back to jail without the possibility of bail while he continues his investigation into alleged irregularities committed in the Spanish savings bank’s purchase of City National Bank of Florida, judicial sources said Thursday.

Judge Silva sent Blesa to jail in May but the retired banker spent only 24 hours in prison after his lawyers posted bail of 2.5 million euros. He ordered Blesa to return to prison on Wednesday following a plea to do so by rightwing pressure group Manos Limpias, which has launched a private prosecution in the case. The public prosecutor opposed Blesa’s imprisonment.

Blesa faces charges of criminal mismanagement, falsification of documents and possible misappropriation of funds. Bankia, the bank formed by the merger of Caja Madrid and six smaller savings banks, last month sold the Florida bank for 150 million euros less than what it paid for it.

The prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into Silva after Blesa’s defense disputed his assignment to the case. The director of public prosecutions of the Madrid regional High Court, Manuel Moix, told EL PAÍS on Thursday that his office is “very seriously studying” filing a suit against Judge Silva for continued breach of official duties. Moix is concerned that Silva may have breached due legal procedure and “basic rights.”

The case against Blesa stems from a loan of 26.6 million euros granted by Caja Madrid to Gerardo Díaz Ferrán, when the latter was a director of the savings bank. Díaz Ferrán, who headed the CEOE, Spain’s largest employer group, is in preventive custody while awaiting trial on a number of charges relating to his business dealings. The investigation into the loan was extended to include the purchase of City National Bank of Florida, allegedly at an inflated price and in breach of Caja Madrid’s own bylaws.

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