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MADRID, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Former International Monetary Fund chief Rodrigo Rato was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for misusing company credit cards for personal expenses while he worked at lender Bankia, a Spanish court ruled on Thursday.
Rato - a one-time economy minister in Spain and once a prominent figure in the ruling People's Party (PP) - was on trial along with 64 other executives and former board members of Bankia and its founding savings bank Caja Madrid.
After his tenure at the IMF, Rato chaired Bankia for two years until just before its state bailout in 2012.
He was convicted of unlawful appropriation, the court said in a written ruling, as was ex-Caja Madrid Chairman Miguel Blesa, who was sentenced to six years jail time.
Rato had denied any wrongdoing, arguing the expenses he accrued on the Bankia credit cards were legal.
Reporting by Inmaculada Sanz, Writing by Sarah White, Editing by Jesus Aguado