Rodrigo de Rato y Figaredo (born 18 March 1949) is a conservativeSpanish politician and banker who served in the government of Spain as Minister of Economy and as a vice president from 1996 to 2004. He was managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2004 to 2007 and president of Bankia between 2010 and 2012.
Rato was arrested on 16 April 2015 for alleged fraud, embezzlement and money laundering. His case was still awaiting trial a year later when his name appeared in the Panama Papers. Despite his prior assurances that he did not own companies in tax havens, apparently he used two offshore companies to avoid taxes on millions of euros kept overseas. It has been alleged that he owes taxes to both the Spanish and Panamanian governments.
On 23 February 2017, Rato was found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to 4½ years’ imprisonment. In September 2018, the sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Spain., and Rato entered prison on 25 October 2018.
Rodrigo de Rato was born in Madrid, into a rich textile-owning family from Asturias. He is the great-grandson of politician Faustino Rodríguez-San Pedro y Díaz-Argüelles and the son of businessman Ramón Rato who was jailed in 1967 for tax evasion to Switzerland through his Banco Siero, and of Aurora Figaredo Sela. Both the Rato and the Figaredo sides of his family owned industries and nobility titles. Rato attended a Jesuit school Our Lady of Remembrance College, Madrid before studying law in the Complutense University.
In 1975 Rato became involved in the family business, first in Fuensanta, an Asturian mineral water company, and then in two Madrid construction firms. He also became involved in expanding the Cadena Rato chain of radio stations.
In 1977 Rato joined the newly formed Popular Alliance (AP), a party containing former ministers of Franco, founded by Manuel Fraga, a close personal friend of his father. In December 1979 Rato was elected to the national executive committee, and became secretary of the AP economic commission. In February 1981 he became one of the party’s five Secretaries-General, and was considered to be their economic expert. He supported tight controls on public spending, and an emphasis on the supply side of economics. In October 1982 he won election as an AP member of the Congress of Deputies for Cádiz in spite of having no connection to this Andalucian town. He represented the area until 1989 and subsequently represented Madrid from 1989 to 2000.
The 1982 election handed a loss to the AP, and marked the beginning of the long rule of the PSOE and Felipe González. Until 1984 Rato was the Secretary of the parliamentary group. He then became their economic affairs spokesman where he impressed the party with his attacks on the PSOE’s economic policies. He was seen to be on the liberal wing of the party.
When Fraga resigned from the leadership in December 1986 Rato backed Miguel Herrero y Rodríguez de Miñón who lost the leadership race to Antonio Hernández Mancha, but managed to keep his positions within the party. During these years he also continued his business career in Aguas de Fuensanta; having previously been the CEO of the company from 1978 to 1982, he served as chairman from 1985 to 1991. In June 1989 Fraga again became interim President after the generally acknowledged failure of the leadership of Hernández Mancha. The party became the slightly more inclusive People’s Party (PP). Rato was given shared responsibility over the elections with Francisco Álvarez-Cascos Fernández, the new party Secretary General. He was a close supporter of José María Aznar, who was voted as the new PP leader on 4 September.
On 29 October, the PP lost the general election, though his role in the campaign gave him national prominence. Afterwards he was appointed party spokesman. On 2 April 1990 his father sold the family stake in Cadena Rato for 5 billion pesetas. In June 1991 he stopped being President of Fuensanta, but remained on the board until 1993. On 6 June that year the PP lost another general election to PSOE. In the 12th National Congress in January 1996 he was confirmed as one of the three vice secretaries of the party.