The Bankia fiasco may have hit rock bottom May 25, 2012 when 16 of its 18 board members presented a group resignation. The group intended to communicate that the bank should have done away with the astronomical salaries it was paying its executives after the government bailed out the bank with public money. Its employees would have to be professional now. And not only regarding politics. But what happened before that fateful day? And who were those 18 men and women?
The partisan interests saturating the top positions in Spain’s most important companies, positions the law considers nonpartisan, extend to Savings and Loan banks. The pinacle of Bankia, Rodrigo Rato, Aznar’s ex-minister who once directed the International Monetary Fund, quickly obtained a new appointment after his early resignation on May 9, 2012. First Telefónica and then Banco Santander, for which he had worked before his banking venture at Bankia, offered him a seat on their boards of directors. The same day Rato abandoned ship, his second-in-command, José Manuel Fernández Norniella, who before managing the company Ebro Foods was a Popular Party (PP) deputy and secretary of State in the José María Aznar administration, handed in his resignation. Norniella was another one of Montoro’s business partners.
Although the king and queen were designated to the board, the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE) was able to claim a seat at the table. The socialist representation included Antonio Tirado, mayor of Castellón in the eighties, and Virgilio Zapatero (vice president of Cajamadrid), a Socialist party deputy for the past 17 years and minister and secretary of State in the government of Felipe González. Zapatero is one of the founders of the Pablo Iglesias Foundation, an organization linked to the PSOE.
Even the United Left (IU) was able to gain representation in the board of directors through José Antonio Moral Santín. It was not the first time that Moral, deputy of the Assembly of Madrid, had claimed a seat in a politically connected institution, for he was president of Telemadrid at the time of his appointment.
The curriculum vitaes of two other board members included high governmental positions. Juan Martín Queralt was general director of taxation in the Generalitat Valenciana in the eighties and is the current spokesperson for the consulting organism of the same government agency. Finally, José Manuel Serra Peris was secretary of state in the Aznar administration and is currently the vice president of the Canal de Isabel II.
Along with these congressmen-turned-bankers sat some strategically placed businessmen, the majority coming from Bankia’s Valencian branch. For example, Francisco Ros García, an advisor representing the Ros Casares group and president of the Association for Progress in Management (APD) in Levante; Francisco Pons Alcoy, president of Importaco and director of the Business Association of Valencia (AVE), whom Iberdrola appointed board member after he left Bankia; and Alberto Ibáñez González, board member of Colonial Real Estate (Inmobiliaria Colonial). Speaking of representation from big business, one cannot forget to mention Arturo Fernández, vice president of the CEOE (Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organizations) and president of both the CEIM (Madrid Confederation of Employers and Industries) and the Group for the Restoration of Cantoblanco. Neither can one exclude Javier López Madrid, son-in-law of Juan Miguel Villar Mir and member of the great dynasty.
Coming directly from the merged banks were the board members Josep Ibern (Caixa Laietana), Álvaro de Ulloa (Caja Segovia), Atilano Soto Rábanos (Caja Segovia) and Francisco Verdú Pons (Banca March). The latter stayed at Bankia until June 2012. Minister of Economy Araceli Mora Engídanos and Juan Llopart Pérez, president of the executive commission of Grupo Zeta and, until 2009, board member of El Terrat, also sat on the board of Bankia.
Both Esperanza Aguirre (then-president of the Community of Madrid) and Ignacio González (Bankia’s vice president at its founding) could discuss the bank’s downfall during family gatherings. The president’s cousin, Claudio Aguirre Pemán, was one of the analysts’ most valued board members. Aguirre Pemán held powerful positions in Goldman Sachs and Merril Lynch. He is also a member of the boards of Endesa Gas and Vocento.
Ignacio González’s family had two members on the board of directors, Carmen Cavero, (deceased mother-in-law of the current president of the Community of Madrid) and Ignacio’s brother, Pablo González, the director of Bankia’s Department of Energy, Technology and Infrastructure who submitted his resignation on May 9, 2012.
The National Court has accused all except Aguirre, Queralt, Ulloa and Zapatero for fraud, wrongful appropriations and falsification of receipts in an open lawsuit.