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Can We Crowdfund Justice?

A group of Spanish activists have quickly raised over €15,000 by appealing to public demands that banking executives be brought to justice. The fund will be used to conduct legal research.

What’s the Latest Development?

A group of Spanish activists have quickly raised over €15,000 by appealing to the public’s demand that Rodrigo Rato, the former head of the now-bankrupt Spanish bank Bankia, be brought to justice under civilian and criminal law. “While [the activists] can file civil claims, criminal charges have to come from the government. So the goal is to use the money not just for filing a civil suit, but also to hire independent investigators and auditors to work towards building enough details and evidence that it forces the government to file criminal charges as well.”

What’s the Big Idea?

After requesting a €19 billion bailout from Spain’s central government (though under Rato, the bank claimed profits of €328 million), the country has become a flash point in the ongoing European debt crisis. Bankia’s downfall is mostly due to its exposure to the Spanish real-estate market, which collapsed after a boom that lasted several years. Crowdfunding as an instrument of justice is a fresh development in the global movement seeking to hold politicians accountable to their constituents, not just to multinational corporations. To others, crowdfunding is problematic because it sets a barrier to entry that excludes the poor from meaningful participation. 

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