New details on ex-banking exec found dead at hunting estate

MADRID — Judicial authorities in Spain say that autopsy results show the Spanish banker involved in graft scandals who was found dead this week with a gunshot wound to his chest deliberately shot himself.

The body of Miguel Blesa, the 69-year-old former chairman of the now-defunct Caja Madrid, was found Wednesday in the garage of a private hunting estate in southern Spain after he told other guests he was going to move his car.

The forensic report confirms the widespread speculation that the case had been a suicide.

Blesa had been waiting for the result of an appeal to a six-year prison sentence for misusing corporate credit cards issued by Bankia SA, which absorbed Caja Madrid, one of the country’s top saving banks, in 2011. Bankia was later nationalized and bailed out for 18 billion euros ($24 billion).

The credit card scandal ran from 1999 to 2012. An estimated 15.5 milion euros ($17.85 million), supposedly meant to cover the cost of bank board members and advisers attending board meetings, had been spent on jewelery, vacations and luxury clothes or just taken out of cash machines, the BBC reports.

Blesa chaired Caja Madrid between 1996 and 2010.

Both Blesa and former International Monetary Fund chief Rodrigo Rato, who chaired Bankia between 2010 and 2012, appealed a March ruling by Spain’s National Court that condemned them to 6 and 4 1/2 years in prison respectively.

Blesa received the highest punishment among 65 defendants found guilty of hiding irregular and undeclared expenses with the cards. The two former bankers were released on bail while the appeal is resolved.

The former banker was also in the midst of a lawsuit involving irregular bonuses during his time at Caja Madrid. In 2013, he was briefly jailed for irregularities in the purchase of shares in the City National Bank of Florida, but a court later acquitted him.

Blesa also appeared in leaked documents of the Mossack Fonseca law firm, which was investigated for managing offshore accounts globally. According to media reports at the time, he used the Panamanian firm in 1989 to create a company in the British Virgin Islands in order to invest in Spain-based companies.


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