Miguel Blesa, one of the only senior bankers in the Western world to have been sent to jail in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis — not once but twice — is dead. As El País reports, the former CEO of Caja Madrid, the bank that was rolled together with six other failed saving banks into TBTF entity Bankia in 2011 only to spectacularly fail in 2012, was found dead this morning in his Puerto del Toro country estate in southern Spain’s Córdoba province:
Police sources said Blesa had arrived at the property on Wednesday with the intention of spending several days there. Before going out hunting he was having breakfast with friends, whom he told he was going out to move his car.
Initial reports indicate he was found dead with a bullet wound to his chest from a hunting rifle, and suicide is suspected although this not been confirmed.
Blesa was one of 65 defendants found guilty in March of misusing millions of euros from the lender Caja Madrid through the use of tax-free credit cards in the so-called “tarjetas black” scandal.
The 65 people involved in the case spent a collective €12.5 million between 2003 and 2012 on tax-free personal expenses ranging from vacations and jewelry, to meals in expensive restaurants, all paid for with credit cards unofficially granted to them by the heads of the Caja Madrid savings bank, then later at Bankia, the entity that was created from the merger of seven struggling regional lenders.
The top convictions in the case were for Blesa, who was sentenced to six years in prison, and for his successor Rodrigo Rato, a former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief who was also deputy prime minister of Spain between 2003 and 2004. The latter was given a four-and-a-half-year sentence, which he has said he will appeal.
Blesa is not the first alleged white-collar criminal in Spain to have died in mysterious circumstances in recent years. As the video below shows, at least seven suspects/witnesses involved in the high-profile Gurtel corruption case have expired in the last couple of years, including Rita Barbera, a scandal-tainted stalwart of Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP) and mayor of the Mediterranean city of Valencia for 24 years.
For further reading, here are some articles I wrote about Blesa for WOLF STREET: