CORRUPTION

Ex-IMF chief Rodrigo Rato has passport seized by judge

Former deputy prime minister gives three-hour testimony in corruption investigation

Ex-IMF chief Rodrigo Rato.
Ex-IMF chief Rodrigo Rato.ULY MARTIN

Rodrigo Rato, a veteran Spanish politician who served as an International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief and senior government official with the governing Popular Party (PP), will have his passport revoked and is now obliged to show up in court once a month, a Madrid judge ruled on Tuesday.

The decision comes after hearing testimony from Rato, who was once Spain’s deputy prime minister and economy minister, but has since become entangled in three criminal investigations and has been stripped of party membership.

For three hours, Rato answered questions relating to the charges of tax crimes, money laundering and commercial bribery that got him briefly arrested on April 16 while his Madrid home and office were raided by police.

Judge Antonio Serrano-Arnal will also hear testimony from 16 witnesses between Wednesday and Thursday.

The Rato case is focusing on alleged tax irregularities committed by the former politician in his private business dealings, and on kickbacks he allegedly accepted to favor specific firms while he headed Bankia, a Spanish lender that had to be nationalized in 2012.

The Tax Agency had been examining Rato’s assets abroad for several months, and located a number of companies that led to tax havens.

The recent discovery by investigators of €6.5 million in undeclared money in the accounts of a firm controlled by Rato triggered this new subpoena

The recent discovery by investigators of €6.5 million in undeclared funds in the accounts of Kradonara, a firm controlled by Rato, triggered this new subpoena for the ex-IMF chief. The money came from Britain, Gibraltar and Luxembourg.

A report by the National Fraud Investigation Office detected suspicious bank transactions made by Rato, including transferring company shares to make it look like his personal wealth was smaller than it really was. The buyers were his own children, who later transferred the shares back.

The investigation also found that, through Kradonara, Rato received a payment of at least €835,000 from the companies Zenith and Publicis in exchange for securing advertising contracts worth around €46 million from Bankia in 2011 and 2012, when Rato was at the helm.

More information
“I trust in the justice system,” says ex-IMF head Rato after arrest
Ex-IMF chief filed for 2012 tax amnesty
Ex-IMF chief Rodrigo Rato accused of giving children €2.5m to avoid bond

The largest of these contracts involved advertising for Bankia’s stock market flotation. This move ultimately triggered another criminal investigation (the Bankia case) after it emerged that the lender had fudged the figures in order to attract investment money. Thousands of small investors lost their savings as a result.

Rato is also being investigated by another court in connection with the “black” credit cards secretly issued by Bankia and its predecessor, Caja Madrid, to its top executives. The monthly credit on each card, which beneficiaries used for personal purposes, was not counted as part of their wages and the money went undeclared.

English version by Susana Urra.

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