Former Spanish banker found dead with gunshot wound to chest

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A FORMER chairman of one of the country’s largest banks was found dead on Wednesday with a gunshot wound to the chest, Guardia Civil said.

The body of Miguel Blesa, 69, who has links to senior members of Spain’s governing Popular Party, was found beside a car at a private estate in Villanueva del Rey in the southern province of Cordoba.

The Spanish press said his death appeared to be suicide but Guardia Civil refused to confirm.

Blesa was having breakfast with friends at the hunting estate and left the table to move his car.

His friends described hearing a gunshot moments later.

Guardia Civil said an autopsy would be required to determine the exact cause of the death.

The former head of the now defunct Caja Madrid savings bank was awaiting the result of an appeal to a six-year prison sentence for misusing corporate credit cards issued by Bankia SA, another defunct bank.

Blesa was accused of setting up the so-called ‘black cards’ scheme which allowed him and over 60 other executives of the two lenders to buy jewels, holidays and expensive clothes.

He was found guilty of having misappropriated €435,000.

Among those who were also convicted over the affair was Rato, who chaired Bankia for two years until just before it was bailed out in 2012.

Rato was sentenced to four and a half years in jail.

Blesa, who is close to former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, chaired Caja Madrid, one of the country’s top saving banks, between 1996 and 2010.

In 2011, the bank was merged with seven other domestic savings institutions to form Bankia, which later had to be nationalized and bailed out for €18 billion.

Blesa in 2013 became the first prominent banker to go behind bars since the start of Spain’s financial crisis.

He was jailed as part of a probe into Caja Madrid’s purchase in 2008 at an inflated price of the City National Bank of Florida, but was released a few days later after that case was dropped.

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