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Former IMF chief Rato in fraud investigation

Former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato has been detained by police following a search of his home in Madrid. He is already under investigation for alleged fraud and misusing company credit cards.

Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) boss Rodrigo Rato was escorted from his apartment in Madrid's wealthy Salamanca neighborhood on Thursday night and driven off in an unmarked police car.

Officials spent three hours searching the property as part of an investigation into tax paid on the 66-year-old's personal wealth, Spain's state prosecutor said.

Rato, a former Spanish economy minister with the ruling conservative Popular Party (PP), served as head the IMF from 2004 to 2007.

Rato is already under investigation for alleged fraud, embezzlement and forgery in his former role as chief executive of Spanish bank Bankia, which

came close to collapse

in 2012 and had to be bailed out by Spanish authorities for 24 billion euros ($26 billion).

He has also been questioned in court as part of a separate investigation into widespread misuse of corporate credit cards during his time at Bankia - a scandal that led to his expulsion from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's PP last October.

Rato has denied wrongdoing in both these cases.

The reputation of the PP has been tarnished by a

series of graft scandals

in recent years.

News of the latest investigation into Rato comes ahead of regional and local elections next month, and a general election in December.

nm/bw (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

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