Ex-Caja Madrid Chairman Blesa Found Dead With Gunshot Wound

Updated on
  • Blesa found at hunting estate in Spain’s Cordoba province
  • Banker led savings bank that merged with others to form Bankia

Miguel Blesa, the former chairman of Caja Madrid who for many Spaniards came to represent the management excesses that helped cause the country’s banking crisis, was found dead with a gunshot wound, police said.

Blesa was found at a hunting estate in the southern province of Cordoba with a shot from a firearm to his chest, a spokeswoman for the Guardia Civil said by phone. A worker from the estate called the police at about 8 a.m., the spokeswoman said. Police have opened an investigation into the death of the banker, who was 69. The initial premise of police officers is that the cause of death may have been suicide and an autopsy will be carried out in Cordoba on Thursday, El Pais newspaper reported.

Miguel Blesa

Photographer: Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images

As former Chairman of Caja Madrid for more than a decade to 2010, Blesa oversaw a savings bank whose financial woes forced it into a merger with six other lenders to form Bankia SA, which in turn was rescued with 22 billion euros ($25.4 billion) in state aid. He was handed a six-year jail term in February for misusing his Caja Madrid corporate credit card and was appealing it at the time of his death.

Officials, including Blesa and former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato, ran up combined bills of more than 15 million euros on items including clothes, hotel stays and cash withdrawals, according to an itemized list of expenses obtained by Bloomberg when the case came to light in 2014. Blesa had charged 437,000 euros to his credit card between 2003 and 2010 with spending on items including a 2,350-euro jeweler’s bill.

Blesa’s defense said at the trial the data used to accuse the banker was manipulated and used in a wrong way and asked the court to grant an acquittal for him, EFE reported at the time.

The so-called “Black Cards” case engulfed figures from across the world of politics and business in Madrid as it probed the use of credit cards at Caja Madrid and Bankia from 2003 to 2012, when the lender’s near collapse forced its rescue with funds borrowed from Europe.

Blesa was also awaiting the start of another trial after a Madrid-based judge earlier this year agreed to investigate him and former Caja Madrid Chief Financial Officer Ildefonso Sanchez Barcoj for disloyal administration from 2007 to 2010. The prosecutor requested a four-year jail term for Blesa and Sanchez Barcoj in relation to payments made to members of Caja Madrid’s management committee.

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