(Adds details, background)
By Emma Pinedo
MADRID May 8 A Spanish court has called the
chairmen of the country's top three banks to testify as
witnesses in an investigation into the 2011 initial public
offering of lender Bankia, which later had to be
bailed out by the taxpayer.
Santander chairman Emilio Botin, BBVA
chairman Francisco Gonzalez, and Caixabank chairman
Isidro Faine are due to appear in court on May 24, a High Court
spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
A small Spanish political party forced Spain's High Court to
open an investigation last year into whether former Bankia
chairman, Rodrigo Rato, and 32 other former board members of
Bankia and its parent company BFA are guilty of fraud,
price-fixing or falsifying accounts.
The court spokeswoman could not say what the three bank
chairmen were to be questioned about. No one at Santander or
CaixaBank were immediately available for comment. BBVA declined
Press reports said the questioning was likely to revolve
around a meeting shortly before Rato's resignation in May 2012,
when Economy Minister Luis de Guindos called Rato and the heads
of the country's three biggest lenders to a meeting.
During the meeting, de Guindos asked Rato to make BBVA
executive Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri Bankia's chief executive
officer, effectively undermining Rato's power.
De Guindos, former chairman Rato, current Bankia chairman
Goirigolzarri and the former and current governors of the Bank
of Spain have also been called as witnesses in the
The investigating magistrate on the case, Fernando Andreu,
has so far not brought formal charges against anyone and may
still drop the case.
(Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Paul Day and Mark Potter)