Ex-IMF chief Rato refuses to testify on fraud charges

The ex-head of the International Monetary Fund Rodrigo Rato refused to answer a judge`s questions Wednesday over the latest in a string of fraud charges against him, a source close to the case said.

Madrid: The ex-head of the International Monetary Fund Rodrigo Rato refused to answer a judge`s questions Wednesday over the latest in a string of fraud charges against him, a source close to the case said.

One of the best-known politicians in Spain, Rato was summoned before a Madrid judge investigating allegations including tax fraud and money-laundering.

A source present at the hearing said that Rato told the court: "My right to a defence obliges me not to answer your questions because I am unaware of the deeds of which I am accused" and the grounds for the charges.

He said he would not speak out in court until he had seen a report being drawn up by the fiscal authorities, based on documents seized during searches of his home and offices in April.

Rato, 66, was formerly a prominent member of Spain`s governing Popular Party. He was Spain`s finance minister in the late 1990s and managing director of the IMF from 2004 to 2007.

The investigating judge summoned him for a hearing to decide whether to bring formal charges against him over the latest allegations that erupted in April.

This probe centres on allegations of tax evasion, money-laundering and concealing assets.

Rato was already being investigated for alleged fraud during his time as chief executive at Bankia, a Spanish lender which needed to be bailed out by the government in 2012.

The near-collapse of Bankia almost brought down Spain`s whole financial sector, which was bailed out later that year by international creditors for 41 billion euros ($44 billion).

Rato has also been questioned in court as part of a third probe into alleged spending sprees on company credit cards by him and other ex-managers of Bankia.

He has denied wrongdoing in both those cases.