Disgraced banker found dead on country estate after shooting himself with hunting rifle

Miguel Blesa, the disgraced former chairman of Spanish savings bank Caja Madrid was found dead at his country estate on Wednesday, where he reportedly shot himself in the chest.

Disgraced banker found dead on country estate after shooting himself with hunting rifle
Miguel Blesa established a 'corrupt system' while head of Caja Madrid.

Blesa, who was at liberty pending appeal after being found guilty in the “tarjetas black” banking scandal and sentenced to six years in jail, was discovered with a bullet wound from a hunting rifle.

He had been on a hunting trip with friends and after breakfast said he was going to move his car, when the shot was heard, according to reports in El Pais.

Blesa, along with former IMF-chief Rodrigo Rato, was one of 64 former executives and board members at bothCaja Madrid and Bankia, accused of misusing €12 million ($12.7 million) between 2003 and 2012.

Rato (L) and Blesa in court in February. Both were found guilty and sentenced to jail but were at liberty pending appeal after paying a bond. Photo: AFP

They were accused of having paid for personal expenses with credit cardsput at their disposal by both Caja Madrid and Bankia, without ever justifying them or declaring them to tax authorities. 

These expenses included petrol for their cars, supermarket shopping, priceyholidays, luxury bags or parties in nightclubs.

The court heard that Miguel Blesa had established the “corrupt system” while head of the bank before handing over the reins to Rato in 2010.

READ MORE: Ex-banking chiefs handed jail sentence for embezzlement

Caja Madrid was once Spain’s fourth-largest lender, with more than seven million customers and annual earnings of over €2 billion during the real estate boom.

In 2011, it fused to form Bankia, when thousands of small-scale investors were
persuaded to convert their savings to shares ahead of the flotation of Bankia, later losing it all.

Within a yearthe state injected billions of euros but faced with the scale of Bankia's losses and trouble in other banks, it asked the European Union for a bailout for the entire banking sector and eventually received €41 billion.


Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president

Police raided the offices of FC Barcelona on Monday, carrying out several arrests just six days ahead of the club's presidential elections, a Catalan regional police spokesman told AFP.

Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president
Barcelona's former president Josep Maria Bartomeu is among the arrested. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Spain's Cadena Ser radio said one of those arrested was former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October, along with CEO Oscar Grau and the club's head of legal services.

But the police refused to confirm names, saying only “arrests are taking place” and adding that the operation was being run by officers from the financial crimes unit.

“We are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit,” the police spokesman told AFP.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the operation is linked to last year's investigation into the 'BarçaGate' scandal, which saw the club deny hiring a company to criticise current and former players on social media to improve the image of the then-president Bartomeu.

Cadena Ser said Barca paid €1 million in six separate invoices to the company I3 Ventures, with whom the club have since cut ties.

Bartomeu resigned in October, after mounting pressure following months of controversy and a dramatic decline in performances on the pitch.

His successor is due to be elected on Sunday, when club members will choose between the final three candidates, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font.