Former Caja Madrid chief remanded in custody as flight risk

Miguel Blesa ordered to turn over passport in case investigating loan to failed travel company

Former Caja Madrid president, Miguel Blesa. / EFE

A judge has ordered that the former president of Caja Madrid, Miguel Blesa, be remanded in custody on 2.5-million-euro bail over the lender’s purchase of City National Bank of Florida. The court considers Blesa a flight risk and has also confiscated his passport, according to judicial sources.

Blesa, who headed up Caja Madrid between 1996 and 2009, is being tried for irregularities in the acquisition of the US bank, as well as for a loan of 26.6 million euros that was granted to Grupo Marsans, a travel agency that went bust with huge losses in 2010. Obscure right-wing union Manos Limpias is a plaintiff in the case against the banker.

Blesa was summonsed to court as a matter of urgency Thursday in relation to the 2006 purchase of City National Bank of Florida after Manos Limpias decided to extend its case beyond the initial complaint over the Marsans loan and on the findings of KPMG analysts, who confirmed that the loan did not meet legal requirements.

Blesa and former Marsans owner Gerardo Díaz Ferrán, who is also in jail as part of another investigation, are accused of corporate crimes and falsification of documents. On April 16, Judge Elpidio José Silva also issued summonses to six members of the bank’s financial committee.

Caja Madrid took control of City National Bank of Florida in 2008 after paying 618 million euros for 83 percent of the US lender in a deal approved unanimously by the Spanish bank’s board of directors in order to “strengthen” its presence in America. The Bank of Spain noted that as well as excessive investment in the US lender the purchase was carried out in such a way as to “elude the obligatory control of the tax and economy authorities in Madrid.”

 

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