Friday, 6 July 2012

Don't release Rodrigo

I mislead of course: Rodrigo Rato isn't in custody. He, has, however, been charged with accounting irregularities, while in charge of Bankia. I believe the IMF are presently engaged in examining the accounts of a number of Spanish banks to try and find out how much bad news they've been hiding: while they are doing this, their former Managing Director is accused of orchestrating those irregularities. (He was succeeded in this position by one Dominique Strauss-Kahn. They can't half pick 'em.)

Prior to running the IMF, Rato was Minister of the Economy and Finance under Aznar. To all intents and purposes this means he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is therefore as if Gordon Brown, rather than becoming Prime Minister, had got the top IMF job that he later coveted, and then later been arrested and charged in connection with a bank scandal. Or, seeing as Rato was and remains a totem of the Right (several government ministers have rushed out statements insisting we remember the presumption of innocence, not an unreasonable comment in itself but something they do not normally feel moved to do) it is as if Kenneth Clarke were now to be arrested. Or Norman Lamont. Or John Major. It's immense.

But it is more immense still, since among the other imputados is Ángel Acebes. Make your own comparisons.

While this is going on, Jaume Matas, Environment Minister under Aznar, is for some reason still walking around at liberty having been sentenced to six years in the big house for his part in the giant Palma Arena scandal, in which the king's son-in-law remains a suspect.

All this may give the outside observer the impression that Spain is a great deal more corrupt than the United Kingdom. Or it may give a different impression, that people are actually charged here who would never get near a British dock. Take your pick. Personally, I'll reserve judgement until somebody actually sees the inside of a cell.

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