Ex-IMF chief Rato could face long jail term in corruption trial

Ex-IMF chief Rato could face long jail term in corruption trial


He faces charges of graft, money laundering, tax dodging; Prosecutor requests over 60-year in prison

Follow on
Follow us on Google News

MADRID (Reuters) – Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Rodrigo Rato, who spent two years in prison on charges of embezzlement as chairman of Spanish lender Bankia, could face a long jail term in a corruption trial that began in Madrid.

Wearing a dark blue suit and seated in the front row of the courtroom, Rato, 74, nodded his head in agreement when asked by the judge, Angela Acevedo, if he was aware of the charges and potential jail time he could face.

Rato, who chaired the IMF from 2004-2007 and Bankia from 2010-2012, has denied wrongdoing.

A prosecutor has requested a sentence of 61-83 years for 11 charges against the tax authorities and other corruption and money laundering offences.

Rato's lawyer Maria Masso asked the court to dismiss the charges, arguing that Rato's rights had been violated during a 2015 search of his home, and evidence obtained through that inspection must be annulled.

"Consequently I hereby request the acquittal of Mr Rodrigo Rato Figaredo with a favourable ruling," Masso said.

The trial is expected to run until May 24, the Madrid court said, with the first hearings expected to be dominated by technicalities, such as which documents can be accepted. Rato is not expected to testify until April, but is attending proceedings.

Rato previously spent two years in prison under a 4-1/2-year jail term handed down in 2018 over the misuse of Bankia credit cards to buy jewels, holidays and expensive clothes.

A former deputy prime minister in Spain's conservative PP government between 1996 and 2004, he was acquitted in a separate fraud trial over the listing of Bankia in 2012.

The latest charges relate to kickbacks he is accused of receiving from Bankia advertising. He is accused of transferring illegal funds back to Spain, concealing 8.6 million euros from the tax authorities, according to the prosecutor.

He also faces charges for falsifying documents, using shell companies with bank accounts in the Bahamas, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monaco and Britain, for investments which the prosecutor said were taxable between 2005 and 2015.

Analysis of documents showed an unjustified increase of more than 15.6 million euros in his wealth during this period, the prosecutor added.