Rodrigo Rato

Jailed former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato, who is serving a 4.5-year sentence for misuse of funds, is to be moved to a semi-open prison regime, a Spanish court said Thursday.

The National Court announcement came two days after Rato was acquitted in another case of fraud and falsifying the books during the 2011 flotation of Spain’s Bankia, a symbol of the country’s banking crisis.

In a statement, the court said his transfer to a semi-open regime would be monitored by an electronic bracelet.

A former rightwing minister, Rato was jailed on October 25, 2018, for paying for personal expenses with company credit cards while he was boss of Caja Madrid and Bankia at a time when both banks were struggling financially.

The case sparked outrage in Spain when it hit the headlines at the height of a severe economic crisis that left many people struggling financially — made all the worse when Bankia had to be rescued by a government bailout.

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On Tuesday, he was acquitted in another Bankia case, with the National Court exonerating him of knowingly tricking investors into buying shares by presenting a misleading image of the bank ahead of its flotation.

Presented as a prosperous business, Bankia’s listing was very popular with small investors who rushed to buy shares only to see their savings disappear a year later as the bank teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.

The state was forced to nationalise the bank, injecting 22 billion euros ($25.7 billion) into it in 2012 to keep it from collapsing at a time when the economy was mired in crisis.

The change in Rato’s prison regime could be “reconsidered” if he is convicted in any of the other cases he is currently facing for corruption and tax fraud, the court said.

Rato was economy minister and deputy prime minister in the conservative government of Jose Maria Aznar from 1996 to 2004, before going on to head the IMF.


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