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Telefónica’s new board member Rodrigo Rato generates controversy

The appointment of Rodrigo Rato, who is under investigation for fraud at state-rescued lender Bankia where he was chairman, to the advisory boards of Telefónica European and Latin American businesses is generating considerable controversy.

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On Twitter and in several Internet reports, many observers are objecting to the appointment—and several cartoons mocking the move have started to pop up on social networks.

Telefónica noted that Rato will not have any executive function.

Rato is the also the former head of the International Monetary Fund and once served as Spain’s economic minister. Spain’s largest telecommunication’s company said on Friday that he was hired to help “reinforce the global vision of Telefónica.” According to a company statement, Telefónica decided to name Rato to its boards for his “experience and career path.”

As pointed out by Reuters, Rato, who was ousted from Bankia when it was nationalized, and 32 other Bankia board members are the subject of an investigation involving fraud, price-fixing and falsifying accounts.

The local Infobae media cited several C-level executives from associations and political parties voicing their disapproval of Rato’s appointment.

When Bloomberg BusinessWeek posted Sydney Finkelstein’s list of worst chief executives of 2012, Rato was listed as number 5.

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