Ex-IMF chief arrested during house search

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RODRIGO RATO, a former Spanish minister and ex-head of the IMF, is reportedly being investigated for money laundering, and was taken into custody while Customs Officers searched his Madrid house.

The officers of the Customs Surveillance Service, which is part of the Spanish Tax Agency, carried out the extensive search as two police vehicles stood guard in front of his prestigious Madrid home yesterday (April 16).

Judicial sources said that a request by the Public Prosecutor was made to the court, resulting in the search warrant being issued. The operation was carried out at 4pm, and Rato was released following the search.

The search happened just one day after it emerged that Rato applied for a 2012 tax amnesty that authorities now suspect may have been used by some applicants for money laundering purposes.

Asked by the Spanish press whether he was on the list of 705 individuals suspected of being investigated for money laundering, Rato neither denied nor confirmed the claim. “I have received no document from any agency stating that I am being investigated by Sepblac. This is a personal matter and I don’t think I have any obligation to make a statement.”

The former chief of the IMF from 2004 until 2007 is reportedly involved in several other current investigations – namely, a probe into the floatation of Bankia. Rato was at the helm of the lender from 2010 until 2012 when it crashed and had to be rescued by the state.

In addition, he is also under the microscope for his part in the scandal involving credit cards used by the hierarchy of Caja Madrid, Bankia’s predecessor, where he also held the reigns from 2003 until 2012. In that particular scandal, more than 80 bank officials managed to mount up a €15.5 million debt on undeclared credit cards on items such as travel, gourmet restaurants and jewellery.

On top of that, inspectors are looking into a €6 million payment made out to Rato by Lazard, the investment bank that he worked for before joining Caja Madrid. 

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