Spanish activists raise money to sue bank boss at center of financial crisis

A group of Spanish activists organized under the #QuerellaPaRato ("Lawsuit for Rato") hashtag, have raised a large private fund to pay for a civil action against Rodrigo Rato, the disgraced former chairman of Bankia, one of the banks at the heart of the Spanish financial crisis. The activists also plan on paying private investigators to amass as dossier detailing Rato's wrongdoings in the hopes that Spain's prosecutors will bring criminal charges against the banker.

In the first 12 hours of the campaign, organisers reported that dozens of Bankia shareholders, as well as former employees, agreed to testify against Rato in a lawsuit. According to a survey by Spanish paper El País, 91% of respondents want an investigation of Rato's management of Bankia...

"Bankia did not last even two years; how is it that Rodrigo Rato leaves his position, hastily and receiving millions in compensations without anyone in an institution having asked nothing before, without anyone asking for an explanation, and nobody asking for an investigation? The Spanish political class is complicit in covering up anything that could have happened, and even more troubling, will continue to do so."

Demanding #QuerellaPaRato (via Techdirt)


  1. I have no idea what role this guy had, if any, but this sure smells like scapegoating. Was he responsible for their real estate bubble? For the Castellon “ghost” airport? For the 50%+ unemployment rate among youth, caused in part by strict labor laws? The government budget deficit?

      1. Did you stop reading after that? Doesn’t it seem highly unlikely that one guy would be responsible for a nation-wide real estate bubble and all the other things that have been reported as being “at the center” of their financial crisis?

        1. Doesn’t it seem highly unlikely that one guy would be responsible for a nation-wide real estate bubble and all the other things that have been reported as being “at the center” of their financial crisis?

          Not really. In the US for example, the head of the Fed can pretty much steer the economy. Well, steer it into the gutter, at least.

          1. The US Fed can control interest rates, true, and that can feed a real estate bubble, but still not create one. And as part of the eurozone, I don’t think a Spanish minister has much control over interest rates.

          2. Gimlet, maybe it’s time to educate yourself a little before asking the internet to spoon feed you.

      2.  Scapegoating?
        He was the Minister of Economy from 1996 to 2004, single handedly created the “Brick Bubble” (Cause of Spain´s bank crisis), also was the Managing Director of the International Money Fund from 2004 to 2007, and was the president of a bank that was described two months ago as the “leader bank in Spain” and has to be bailed out two weeks ago for more than 24 billion euros (of public money) at the same time that the Government says that there is no money for education.
        That´s not scapegoating.
         That´s pinpointing one of the direct responsible in the current crisis in Spain.   

        1. Please explain how any one person, even a minister or bank president, can create a nation-wide real estate bubble “single handedly.”

          1. Not single handedly, all the people that is in the government now, were and are his accomplices. Every politician in Spain when retires, catches a very well remunered position in any of the industries they made favors while in the government. So is Rodrigo Rato, all his colleagues while they were in the government where doing the same, but he modified the taxes and economy laws so anyone could ask the banks for more money they could ever return, making the banks richer and richer. When he retired he catched a position in one of those banks from which he has brought to bankrupcy. And now he is getting an astronomic pension for life. He doesn’t even bother for public opinion.

          2. Good question. Did he go around all the estate agents windows, raising house prices every night, and then put a gun to peoples head to force them to borrow way too much money?

        2. Because the millions of morons actually buying into the bubble bear no responsibility ? Charming…

          A bubble like this one exists not only because banks and governments create the conditions for it to exist, but also because thousands upon thousands of suckers believe in making a lot of money with minimal work and investment.
          It’s the “little people’s” greed that created the spanish bubble.

          Sure, a con requires a con man, but it also requires a greedy mark believing he’s the one gaming the system, and boy, was the spanish people a greedy sucker.

          From the banks and government point of view, that con paid off, as it provided prosperity and employment as long as no one asked too many questions about the reality of the valuation and debt.

          1. Excuse me. People who are unable to make sense or devote the time to understanding the plethora of financial products and services on the market are not morons. This is why experts and advisers exist and why people pay them. The ‘little people’ have more than enough to do serving their ‘masters’ and are not the greedy ones. Why is it wrong to want a decent life for yourself and your family?

          2. I live in London where city money and bankers bonuses are making house prices increasingly unaffordable for all but a minority unless they take out mortgages at ever increasing multiples of their salary – ten times salary is not unknown. If I wanted to buy my one bedroom flat now it would cost me twenty times my salary. What are people supposed to do? The snake oil salesmen determine the cost of housing in the first place. Most people ARE not greedy (and I agree that greed is unbecoming in anyone) but they may be insecure and find some security in possessions. These are not the same thing.

          3. I didn’t realize the “little people” were the ones creating fraudulent complex financial instruments.  Good troll tho…

            Of course the little people still have their bills to pay, homes to lose and get punished by austerity. What happened to the bankers again? Oh right: Bonuses.

          4. the “millions of morons” would have been denied a loan, or at least the mortgage would not have been so high, if not for the policies instituted by that man, both as economy minister and as president of Bankia. So!

        1.  And now that it is not burdened by rigid labor laws unemployment is rising like hell…

          Paraphrasing the same article you linked:
          “The reform hasn’t benefited anyone,” said Amelia Calvo, 59, who lost her job in a bank two years ago. “If there’s no investment (by the government but only austerity measures), it’s impossible to create jobs.”

          1. The article also pointed out that the relaxation of the strict labor laws would be expected to be a long-term fix more than a short-term one. 

            And to reply to an Antinous comment below (the Reply button disappears when replies get too narrow), “And those fiduciaries all lied” needs a citation. Sure, real estate salespeople are still salespeople with all that that implies, but that’s a very sweeping claim.

          2. No. No citation needed. You need to learn that sometimes people use words in a non-literal sense for effect.

    1. Nail, head. A lot of smaller local mutual “banks” have also failed. Mutually owned means no shareholders.

  2. God ! What an extraordinary clip . Brought tears to my eyes . I’m so proud of you Spanish people for fighting back . Unbelievably moving . Bravo ! Bravo ! 

  3. What is even worse (from a spanish citizen point of view) is that Rodrigo Rato was the former minister of economy the previous time the government party was in charge. What people is forgoting now is that this is the man that created the real state buble in Spain.

    1. He created the real estate bubble? Wow.   If he’s that powerful, surely he could just walk away from the prosecution, over the blue waters of the med, or smite his detractors with thunderbolts.

      The real estate bubble was caused mainly by the creation of the eurozone (interest rates too high at the core, too low at the periphery), technical innovations in banking (securitising mortgage debt made it easier for banks to lend a lot more), and good, old-fashioned greed by all the people who thought they were making an easy buck. No, no the “banksters”, but all the people who borrowed and bought houses thinking they were making huge amounts of money.

      Take some responsibility, people.

      1.  Yes, he created the real estate bubble.
        He dropped most of the laws concerning where could be build or not. Literally thousands of formerly protected ecological areas were devastated to build huge luxury projects like Marina´Dor, theme parks and unnecessary infrastructure.
        He allowed  banks and saving banks lend money beyond any measure.
        Mysteriously most the real state promoters and  businessmen enriched by this where directly related to the ruling party, as they were lend money from saving banks controlled by the same politicians (Saving banks in Spain are directed by politicians, not bankers).
        “The Spanish Miracle” he said.
        He was the bus driver who steered the wheel to the cliff, he jumped from the bus and blamed the passengers.

        1. And the greedy idiots borrowing money to buy real estate thinking it was like printing money, they bear no responsibility ?

          Seriously, no one’s saying he bears none, just that there is a certain hypocrisy in painting the conned as “innocent bystanders” when they had been as greedy and irresponsible as the con-man.

          It’s a game that requires both sides to be greedy bastards.
          Of course, when the game’s up, one side has more to lose than the other, that doesn’t make the stung party any less guilty of greed and suspension of reason.

          Moreover, the conned ones were very happy as long as this brought employment and prosperity.
          But now that it doesn’t work anymore, it’s such a bad thing, and of course always was, sure, it was an ecological disaster, still they borrowed money to be part of it…
          Hypocrites I tell you.

          1. So? 
            Being a greedy sucker isn’t illegal. Setting up a con to steal from greedy suckers is.

          2. And the greedy idiots borrowing money to buy real estate thinking it was like printing money, they bear no responsibility?

            Real estate agents are fiduciaries. Mortgage brokers are fiduciaries. Appraisers are fiduciaries. They’re all legally obligated to deal in good faith, and they all lied. The reason that these professions are considered fiduciaries is that the average person cannot navigate a real estate contract or a loan contract or conduct an appraisal. So the law creates a class of fiduciaries to help average people through the process. And those fiduciaries all lied.

      2.   No, no the “banksters”, but all the people who borrowed and bought houses thinking they were making huge amounts of money.

        Just how heavy is that water you’re carrying for the elite?

      3. The bankers  should have been, you know, responsible, cautious and reputable and they were not. Their banks and institutions should have folded and were rescued with public money. They should have faced people ready to murder them over lost money, or take the gun to their own heads themselves.

  4. That guy’s got a real Gipsy Kings vibe going on.   It’s certainly catchier than “O-C-C-U-P-Y What does that spell? OCCUPY!”

  5. Great news! Now, since the SEC failed to prosecute because of jurisdiction, let’s extend it to Querella pa Moody’s.

  6. The Spanish, once again showing the way forward.

    Now if some “Occupy” people, together with some libertarian-minded folks (who believe like me that people should face the consequences of their actions specially when they play with other people’s money and that ) could begin to sue Rato’ counterparts in the U.S.A., and keep at it until they bring some down…

    It believe also that it should not really be “99% vs. 1%”, but against actual guilt, greed without bounds and avaricious incompetence.

      1. Another way to put it… but it wouldn’t be if there actually were a free market instead of crony capitalism and real currency instead of political instruments, and if people who wreck livelihoods and banks faced the consequences of their actions.  But anyhow class indictments are moronic.

  7. Seriously. The closest OWS San Francisco got to this was my imagining “Fat Bottom Girls” playing in my head.

  8. The world economy was propped up for years by the real estate bubble. In CA real estate was 25% of the economy before everything fell apart. People were living on the “equity” in their homes because there were no jobs to be found, or they had massive medical bills. Yes, sometimes greed came into play. But the reality of the world economy is that there are not enough jobs and the financialization of the economy has created great wealth for a very few. We have all been manipulated out of our money and security. And it ain’t over yet. Hunger will rear its ugly head soon. 

    1. Well said Mary, and I’d add years of stagnant wages (but increased work hours) to that toxic mix as well.

      1. And don’t forget ever more massive student loans to get you in the habit of excessive borrowing and to fuck you from the outset.

  9. OK, I know I’m coming to the party late, but Planet Money just did an excellent short segment on this guy, and he’s basically the Hugh McColl of Spain: it was more important to him to be seen as the CEO of the biggest bank in Spain than it was that the bank be profitable, or honest, which (their reporter says) is what lead him to merge his bank, Spain’s second biggest and second most important, with a bank that was almost as large /and known to be failing for ethics reasons/, over the objections of Spanish banking officials, and the resulting failure of his bank was the main thing that precipitated the Spanish banking crisis, and the huge bailout of his bank was the main thing that precipitated the Spanish sovereign debt crisis.

    That doesn’t make him solely responsible (not without other factors, which may well exist for all I know) but it does make him principally responsible, and in an honest court, that ought to be enough to be actionable. So, say a jury finds (just to pull a number out of the air) that he is to blame for 65% of the damage that was done to the Spanish economy — that number would be the basis of the damages to sue him for.Not that he has it, in all likelihood, or anything like it. He has whatever is left, whatever hasn’t been squandered on luxuries that depreciated the second he picked them up, from his personal compensation. But I agree that he shouldn’t even be allowed to keep that much, if he’s convicted, and high-profile defendants are and ought to be a routine part of keeping other CEOs, who might be tempted to commit the same crimes, at least somewhat afraid of getting caught.

  10. What do you think would happen if someone put up a Kickstarter to raise funds for a class action suit in the US?

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