Spain court orders two bank chiefs to stand trial

MADRID (AFP) - A Spanish judge on Tuesday ordered two former executives of failed savings bank CAM, a casualty of the near-collapse of Spain's financial sector, to stand trial for fraud.

The Bank of Spain took over CAM in 2011 and then sold to Banco Sabadell for the symbolic price of one euro as part of an effort to stabilise the financial sector, which was hit hard by the collapse of a building boom in 2008.

High Court Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez, who has been investigating CAM's collapse, ordered the lender's former general manager, Roberto Lopez Abad, and its former head auditor, Juan Ramon Aviles, to stand trial.

He suspects them of embezzlement, mismanagement and corporate malfeasance.

In his ruling the judge said the two men developed "a strategy to enable the members of CAM's audit board to receive large sums of money that did not correspond to any actual activity."

No date for the trial was set. The men face prison terms of between two and 16 and a half years if convicted.

The judge in November 2013 ordered the arrest of five former CAM managers, including Abad, as part of his probe.

Abad was released several days later after paying bail of 1.5 million euros (S$2.6 million).

CAM was just one of many Spanish banks swamped in bad loans after a property bubble imploded in 2008 plunging the country into a double-dip recession.

Several bankers are facing court proceedings, including Rodrigo Rato, the former head of the International Monetary Fund.

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