• Judge sets 3M-euro bail for ex-IMF head in credit card scandal

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    MADRID: A Spanish judge on Thursday ordered ex-IMF head Rodrigo Rato to pay a three-million-euro bond as a court probes allegations that former bank bosses spent millions on nightclubs, safaris and other treats using company credit cards.

    Rato and more than 80 others face possible charges of corporate crimes over allegations that they spent a total of 15 million euros with secret company credit cards when they worked at Caja Madrid and the Bankia group.

    The 65-year-old along with two other former executives was questioned by a judge investigating Bankia, the group whose near-collapse sparked a 41-billion-euro ($52 billion) bailout for Spain’s financial sector.

    The three were met by yells of “Thieves!” from protesters near the court who say they lost their savings when Bankia nearly went bankrupt and had to be rescued in 2012.

    In a closed-door hearing, judge Fernando Andreu ordered Rato to pay a three-million-euro ($3.8 million) bail within three days or have his assets frozen, a judicial source said.

    The judge ordered a second suspect, Miguel Blesa, to pay a bond of 16 million euros, the judicial source said. Blesa was formerly head of Caja Madrid, which later became part of Bankia.

    Audit documents submitted by prosecutors to the court detailed a total of 15.2 million euros of suspect spending with the credit cards.

    Prosecutors said the credit cards were used for personal purchases with media reports saying the money was spent on safaris, meals at luxury restaurants, art, clothing and massive cash withdrawals.

    Blesa and Rato have denied any wrongdoing and said the credit cards formed part of their remuneration for their jobs and were for discretionary spending, the source said.

    The judge also questioned Caja Madrid’s former financial director Ildefonso Sanchez. He said he introduced the system of credit cards and they were only used for professional entertaining expenses, another source said.

    The prosecution’s audit covered more than 80 users of the credit cards — many of them connected to politics, trade unions and even the royal family.

    AFP

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