MADRID, March 15 The Bank of Spain's former
governor denied responsibility for the failure of now
state-controlled Bankia's stock market listing and
said he was unaware of warnings from his inspectors, the lawyer
who brought the case and was present at a court hearing said on
Spain's High Court placed Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez and
five other current and former central bank officials under
investigation in February over their roles in the ill-fated 2011
listing of Bankia, which was nationalized the year after with a
22.5-billion-euros ($24 billion) bailout.
Hundreds of thousands of retail investors who bought into
Bankia's listing saw the value of their shares almost completely
wiped out as a result of the bailout at the height of Spain's
banking crisis, triggering lengthy legal action.
In its February ruling, the High Court said there was
evidence linking the officials to "criminality", after
investigators studied emails from Bank of Spain inspectors who
had warned against giving Bankia the go-ahead to float.
Fernandez Ordonez, who stepped down from the Bank of Spain
in 2012, said at Thursday's hearing he did not receive the
emails from inspectors, the lawyer who brought the case, Andres
Herzog, said on Thursday.
"(He) blamed the recession, the international financial
crisis, and other external circumstances, and said an additional
defect was the lack of regulation," Herzog told reporters after
the hearing which was closed to the press.
Herzog said Ordonez told the court that the system was not
prepared for such a crisis, which he compared to "an
Fernandez Ordonez's lawyer Bernardo del Rosal did not reply
to a request to comment from Reuters.
Ordonez and the five other current and former Bank of Spain
officials, along with two former senior managers at Spain's CNMV
stock market regulator, have been testifying before the
investigating judge, Fernando Andreu, this week.
Under the Spanish legal system people can be named as formal
suspects until a more detailed investigation is carried out to
Three of the eight - all top officials from its supervisory
and inspection units - resigned in February because they did not
want to affect the central bank's functions while testifying as
part of the case.
The Bank of Spain said in February its staff had acted
correctly in their oversight of Bankia.
($1 = 0.9468 euros)
(Reporting By Jesús Aguado; Editing by Angus Berwick and Elaine