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Disgraced banker could walk free thanks to Franco fans

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Disgraced banker could walk free thanks to Franco fans
Mario Conde could be freed on bail. Photo: AFP
16:11 CEST+02:00
A disgraced Spanish banker accused of fraud and embezzlement is out on bail thanks to high-ranking members of the Francisco Franco Foundation.

Mario Conde, 67, was arrested in April amid allegations of money laundering a vast fortune embezzled when he was head of Banesto bank.

He was remanded in jail pending an investigation but could be granted release for €300,000 bail to await trial from the comfort of his one of his several homes in Spain. 

It emerged on Wednesday that the financial guarantee has been given by the Alonso Garcia brothers, Jaime Francisco and Jose Angel, who used four properties on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura as a guarantee.

The brothers are high ranking members of the Francisco Franco Foundation, an organization dedicated to the memory of General Franco, the dictator who ran Spain with an iron fist for 40 years until his death in 1975.

A judge must now decide whether to allow release on bail on the condition that Conde handover his passport and report weekly to his local police station. 

Conde, who became a symbol of the "get-rich-quick" culture in Spain in the late 1980s and early 1990s, was chairman of Banesto when it was taken over in 1993 after an audit revealed a shortfall of €3.6 billion euros ($4.1 billion).

He was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2002 for embezzlement and fraud but was released on parole in 2005 and declared himself insolvent to avoid paying the compensation ordered by the courts when he was sentenced for his offenses at Banesto.

He was arrested, along with his son, daughter, and her husband in April on suspicion of using front companies to channel some €13m stashed in accounts in the UK, Switzerland and Luxemburg, back to Spain.

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