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Ex-governor of Bank of Spain charged over banking scandal

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Ex-governor of Bank of Spain charged over banking scandal
Photo: AFP
16:02 CET+01:00
The former head of Spain's central bank was charged Monday for allowing the troubled Bankia bank to list on the stock exchange in 2011, despite alleged "repeated warnings... that the group was unviable."

Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, in charge of the central bank from 2006 to 2012, was charged over a failed listing that saw small investors lose millions of euros in investment, as was the former president of Spain's CNMV market regulator Julio Segura, a court order revealed.

Bankia was bailed out in May 2012 less than a year after its listing, and is accused of misrepresenting its accounts ahead of the flotation.    

Rodrigo Rato, a former economy minister and ex-International Monetary Fund chief who headed up Bankia at the time of its listing, has also been charged over the scandal.

On Monday, Spain's top-level National Court said it had ordered the investigating magistrate to charge Fernández Ordónez, Segura and six other central bank and CNMV officials at the time -- an order it insisted was final and could not be appealed.

But it is as yet unclear exactly what the charges are.    

The National Court validated conclusions made by prosecutors who concluded that when "an unviable entity has been listed on the stock market, its administrators or auditor should not shoulder all the responsibility."  

They added that "the participation of other players, such as officials in the central bank" should also be looked into.

'Serious inaccuracies'

The investigating magistrate had initially decided not to charge Fernández Ordónez and Segura, but Spain's CIC union appealed the decision, leading to Monday's ruling by the National Court.

In its court order, it laid out allegations by the plaintiffs who claim that an investigating team at Spain's central bank had warned repeatedly "that the group was unviable and that... the listing should not be approved."    

Bankia was created in 2010 at the height of Spain's severe economic crisis from the merger of seven troubled regional savings banks.    

Spain's Supreme Court said last year that "serious inaccuracies" in the information provided by Bankia for the listing led investors into error - opening the way for hundreds of millions of euros in compensation.

Accordingly, the state-rescued lender has had to pay out millions of euros in compensation to small investors.  

Rato is also on trial in a separate case related to his time at Bankia, for allegedly misusing funds when he was head of the group.    

He denies wrongdoing in both cases.

By AFP's Emmanuelle Michel 

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