MADRID, July 10 A Spanish political party that
triggered a high profile court investigation into the near
collapse of bailed-out bank Bankia has asked for
Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), to testify as a witness.
The Union for Progress and Democracy (UPyD), which last year
persuaded the high court to open an investigation into the
bank's listing and near demise, on Wednesday asked the judge
leading the case to call Lagarde and another IMF official to be
questioned, court documents showed on Wednesday.
The IMF declined to comment.
Several former executives of Bankia, including Rodrigo Rato,
himself a former boss of the IMF and who was ousted as chief
executive shortly before the bank requested a state bailout in
May 2012, have been placed under formal investigation for fraud,
price-fixing or falsifying accounts.
They deny the allegations.
Bankia needed 22.5 billion euros ($29 billion) in state
funds to clean up its business, which was crippled by soured
real estate assets, and its rescue, less than a year after it
listed on the Madrid stock market, led Spain to ask for European
funds to help its ailing banks.
Other Spanish officials such as Economy Minister Luis de
Guindos and several chairmen of banks, including Santander
and BBVA, have already appeared as witnesses.
UPyD wants Lagarde to answer questions over conversations De
Guindos said he had held with her about Bankia in the weeks
before the bank requested the rescue, the court documents
Andres Herzog, a lawyer and member of UPyD, said the judge
may not decide whether to call Lagarde or not before September.
UPyD also wants the court to ask Lagarde and Ceyla
Pazarbasioglu, assistant to the director of the IMF's Monetary
and Capital Markets department, what information they had about
Bankia's situation before it requested the bailout.
The party said it would ask the high court to call on other
new witnesses, including members of JPMorgan, which was
one of the banks that handled Bankia's listing, and Bankia
executives such as current financial officer Leopoldo Alvear.
It also wants more information on the role played by Lazard,
which worked on the stock market listing and where former CEO
Rodrigo Rato had previously held a position.
The judge has yet to decide whether to allow new witnesses
and evidence to be admitted.
($1 = 0.7821 euros)
(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Mark Potter)