The ex-boss of the International Monetary Fund, Chief Rodrigo Rato, has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail for misusing corporate credit cards while in charge of two leading Spanish banks at the height of the country’s financial crisis.

Rato, a former economy minister and deputy prime minister, was found guilty of embezzlement at the end of a five-month trial at the national court. He had been on trial with 64 other former executives and board members from the Caja Madrid and Bankia banks, whose near collapse sparked an EU bailout of Spain’s financial sector.

The defendants had been accused of spending a total of 12 million euro between 2003 and 2012, using “black credit cards” to pay for hotels, parties and luxury goods. Prosecutors had claimed the executives used the cards issued to them by Caja Madrid and Bankia without declaring them to tax authorities.

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