Rodrigo Rato   entered prison april 15, 2015. He has been at lenth under investigation by the anticorruption magistracy in Madrid. The accusations range from corruption to money recycling. Rodrigo Rato served as vice president and financial minister of the Aznar government in Spain (1996-2004), afterwards was he director of the IMF till 2007, in the years 2010-2012 was president of Bankia, a bank born out of the fusion of seven saving banks whose policy was to finance the huge Spanish real estate bubble, while being kept afloat thanks to generous injection of public funds. Rato also collaborated with Banco Santander, with Lazard, and at the moment is still advisor to the Spanish Telefonica company.

In july 2011 Bankia was privitised, and in the year 2012 Rato resigned as its president. That was at the beginning of may. Few days after Rato’s resignation, the Spanish state had to intervene with 19 billion euros in order to keep Bankia afloat: it was one of  the biggest bailout ever done in Europe, the biggest ever in Spain. Together with the previous operations, the total amount of public money injected into that banking entity was, at that point, 23 billion and 465 million euros. All public funds, used in order to bailout a private bank which had lost billions in the real estate bubble. Notoriously, real estate has often been used, not only for sheer speculation, but also as a way of money recycling.

Recently it has been discoverd that Bankia used to give out credit cards to various politicians and other persons, who were permitted to freely use them for their own personal whishes, without having to pay back the money they spent: a corruption system implemented in order to guarantee support for the silly endeavors run out of that financial entity. Rato himself used that kind of credit card, with which in the year 2011 he is reported to have spent over 99 thousand euros for personal purchases.

It seems that Rodrigo Rato made not insignificant profits at the time of his tenure as president of Bankia, as, of course, also with his other political and financial responsabilities. Reportedly he holds properties in various offshore markets, including Swaziland and Gibraltar, plus other properties in the USA, United Kingdom, Holland, Republica Dominicana. He is also accused of having transfered currencies to the tune of several million euros in Luxembourg, Switzerland and other countries in the period between 2009 and 2012.

That Rato was arrested is in itself highly significant. All the more so, because an important aspect of the wide operation that resulted in his arrest is that a group of citizens operated as a support and pressure group.

The group was born out of the initiative of Simona Levi, an artist, niece of renown writer Primo Levi, who was born in Turin but emigrated in Spain. Simona Levi has been working on the Rato scandal together with seven friends. The group is called 15mparato and operated especialy through the Internet. They made independent investigations and collected evidences against Rato, especially connected to mismanagament of the real estate business, the deceit of accionists, brutal evictions of citizens who could not pay their mortgage due to the crisis: a crisis caused fundamentally by the many “Ratos” operating in the financial system all over the world.

To be noted, that Rato as president of Bankia used to receive a wage of 2.34 million euros per year.

Now 15mparato is looking forward to more investigations into banking and political mismanagement, corruption, and frauds. Among their objecties, the offshore markets: the sites where all the corruption of the world flows and is hidden and protected.

 

(LS)

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