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Spain's Supreme Court endorses imprisonment of ex-IMF chief

People wait to withdraw money from ATMs at a brach of CaixaBank, in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. Bank customers in Catalonia are withdrawing money from financial institutions as CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell, that have moved their official headquarters to other locations in Spain amid a political crisis over the region's independence bid. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Spain's Supreme Court has confirmed a four-and-a-half year prison sentence for former International Monetary Fund head Rodrigo Rato for misusing a Spanish bank's corporate credit card.

A judge of the lower court will now need to order the imprisonment in the next few days of Rato, who was IMF chief from 2004 to 2007 and previously a leading figure in Spain's conservative Popular Party and Spanish economy minister.

The National Court last year convicted Rato of unlawful misappropriation of funds during his 2010-12 leadership of Bankia, a bank that was later bailed out.

Rato had denied that the credit cards were used for irregular and undeclared expenses.

He received the severest sentence among the 64 defendants in the case.