Senior politicians condemn insults directed at ex-Bankia chief Rato

Former IMF chief threatened and maligned by leftist deputies in Catalan parliamentary hearing into banking crisis

Albert Fernández brandishes his shoe during the hearing.
Albert Fernández brandishes his shoe during the hearing.ALBERT GARCÍA

Congressional speaker Jesús Posada was among a number of political figures to voice their harsh criticism of the insults that were directed on Monday at the former chairman of Bankia, Rodrigo Rato, during a hearing to investigate the collapse of Catalan savings banks.

As well as Posada, the congressional leader of the Catalan nationalist alliance CiU, Josep Antoni Duran Lleida, and several sectors of the ruling Popular Party (PP), made their displeasure known this week at the incidents, which involved deputies from Initiative for Catalonia Greens (ICV), Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the Popular Unity Candidates (CUP).

Rato, a former economy minister and IMF head, assumed the chairmanship of Bankia after it was formed from the merger of seven Spanish savings banks, all of which had been left in serious trouble due to the economic crisis in Spain and the collapse of the real estate market. He left in 2012 amid doubts about the bank’s solvency. Bankia was eventually bailed out with funds granted to Spain by the so-called “troika” of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Monday’s hearing in the Catalan parliament was aimed at investigating the collapse of the Catalan savings banks, as well as determining whether consumer rights had been violated.

Duran accused CUP deputy David Fernández of ignoring the presumption of Rato’s innocence with his “insults,” which including threatening to throw a shoe at the former Bankia chairman while reminding him that 80,000 families had been evicted from their homes during his tenure. “We’ll meet again in hell,” Fernández told Rato. “See you later, gangster.”

No sanctions

Posada described the hearing as having a “threatening” tone, which used unacceptable language. “It left me with a bad taste in my mouth,” he said.

Meanwhile, veteran PP deputy Dolors Montserrat, who was in charge of the hearing into savings banks, expressed her anger over what she described as an “outrageous” spectacle. “They went far too far [on Monday],” she said. The rules governing these hearings do not include sanctions for bad behavior, but after three warnings from the chair, deputies will lose the floor.

Fernández was not the only politician to use such strong language toward Rato. The ICV deputy Josep Vendrell accused him of belonging to the “vile elite,” while Pere Aragonès, from ERC asked him: “Are you aware that your fingerprints are all over the crime of the crisis, and that you should be in jail?”

One of the PP’s spokespersons in Congress, Rafael Hernando, also joined the criticism, saying that the treatment doled out to Rato was “pathetic and deplorable.”

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