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Spanish judge denies bail for former top banker Mario Conde

World News
Wed, 13 Apr 2016

A Spanish judge remanded former top banker Mario Conde in custody on Wednesday after he was arrested on suspicion of money laundering 13 million euros ($14.66m) as he oversaw the collapse of one of Spain's biggest banks.

Conde was one of the country's most prominent bankers of the 1990s when he was chairman of Banesto, which the Bank of Spain had to bail out in 1993 under his watch due to a financial shortfall worth 3.6 billion euros in today's money.

Banesto was subsequently bought by Banco Santander, which went on to become the dominant bank in Spain.

Police arrested Conde along with six other people, including his daughter and son-in-law, after an investigation by the High Court into whether he had set up a network of companies abroad and in Spain to help disguise money he had taken from Banesto before its state rescue.

In a written ruling, the judge Santiago Pedraz said Conde, who is 67, would be remanded in prison, with no bail granted, until the start of his trial on charges of money laundering, eight counts of tax fraud and for belonging to a criminal organisation.

The judge also ordered that Conde's lawyer Francisco Javier de la Vega be detained without bail. The others are either to be held under domestic arrest or provisionally released.

Conde, released from prison in 2005 after serving 11 years of a separate 20-year sentence related to misappropriation of funds and fraud, is being held in a cell at the High court and will shortly be moved to the Soto del Real prison north of Madrid, a court spokesman said.

He joins a long list of former Spanish bankers – such as ex-IMF chief Rodrigo Rato accused of misusing credit cards for personal expenses – that face trial for lining their pockets during their tenures, as public anger against such scandals continues to build.

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