Former Spanish bank chief held

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The Independent Online
MADRID - Spain's Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzalez, caught up in a mounting crisis of corruption scandals, accepted the surprise resignation yesterday of the Agriculture Minister, Vicente Albero, and is scheduled to hold a rare news conference today.

Less than two hours later, police arrested Mariano Rubio, the former governor of the Bank of Spain, and an investment broker, Manuel de la Concha. The state news agency, Efe, reported that the two men were being charged with falsifying documents and tax fraud, crimes that carry prison sentences.

Mr Albero, the second member of Spain's Socialist government to resign in five days, told reporters he was stepping down because of his failure to account for investment earnings on tax declarations. Mr De la Concha had handled some of Mr Albero's investments, and allegedly benefited from inside information provided by Mr Rubio.

The resignation and the arrests appeared directly related to corruption scandals that have rocked Mr Gonzalez's government in recent weeks. They came as police continued their search for the fugitive former head of the Civil Guard, Luis Roldan, who is alleged to have misappropriated public funds. The Interior Minister, Antoni Asuncion, tendered his resignation on 30 April, the day after Mr Roldan's disappearance.

Mr Gonzalez, who has not spoken publicly about the Roldan affair, was summoned on Tuesday to answer questions in parliament next Wednesday. The 52-year-old Socialist leader, Spain's Prime Minister since December 1982, rarely calls news conferences. Opposition leaders have called for his resignation, and some members of his own party have suggested he call early elections. On Tuesday, the Deputy Prime Minister, Narcis Serra, said Mr Gonzalez had no intention of stepping down.