The former president of Sacyr Vallehermoso Luis del Rivero pointed out this Wednesday before the judge investigating the hiring by BBVA of commissioner José Manuel Villarejo that when the construction company decided in February 2005 to abort the attempt to enter the Board of Directors of BBVA, presided over by Francisco González –investigated in this case–, they did so after feeling attacked in the media and out of fear after the Windsor Tower burned on February 12, 2005.
BBVA paid 10.2 million to Villarejo for the orders investigated by the judge
Sources present in the statement point to Europa Press that Del Rivero has also affirmed questions from prosecutors who in 2004 held meetings with both the then Socialist minister Pedro Solbes and the former president of the Government José María Aznar, as the visible head of the opposition, about that operation.
Del Rivero appeared before the judge of the National Court Manuel García-Castellón as harmed by the espionage of Villarejo commissioned by BBVA –Proyecto Trampa–. That project would have been orchestrated by Villarejo to stop the landing of the construction company Sacyr in the Bank’s Board of Directors, and it led from telephone punctures to follow-ups.
During his appearance, Del Rivero made a detailed account of the meetings and movements that he carried out in 2004 with the aim of gaining shareholding weight in BBVA, a weight that could have opened the door for the group to have a vote and decision-making capacity at the time of appointments in the entity.
Thus, Del Rivero has indicated that on November 22, 2004 he held a meeting with the then senior manager of BBVA José Ignacio Goirigolzarri to convey the decision to acquire 3.5 or 5 percent of the bank’s shares. After that meeting, always according to Del Rivero, he had a meal with Minister Solbes, with whom he met the next day at the ministry, already having the support of Société Generale for the operation.
Although these meetings are held in November, the operation takes place between March and May when they groped Aznar, he and his vice president Juan Abelló, to find out how he saw the matter. After this they communicated it to the Government at the beginning of June, through the Economic Office.
As Del Rivero explained to the judge, by then they had already contacted Société Genérale and its president for Spain and Portugal, Donato González, was present at meetings and was aware of it. When Sacyr buys shares through that entity, reaching 3.16 percent of BBVA is when they decide to speak with Solbes. It was already November 2004.
According to his account, that same month, on the 8th, he also met with BBVA shareholders José Domingo Ampuero and Santiago Ybarra – brother of the former president of BBVA Emilio Ybarra – and that’s when they decide to request a meeting with the minister of Economy and communicate the acquisition of shares to the Government. Likewise, he has denied that he met with the then vice president of the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) Carlos Arenillas, although he did meet with the former Minister of Industry of Zapatero, Miguel Sebastián, on two or three occasions.
In line, he explained that he thinks that BBVA wanted to turn this operation into a movement that came from politics with the aim of discrediting the purely economic aspect that, he has defended, is what it really was. And he has affirmed that if the Executive had wanted the operation to go ahead, he would have done so, but that he remained on the sidelines.
Meetings with the Bank of Spain and the CNMV
On the other hand, it has indicated that they also met on this matter with the then deputy governor of the Bank of Spain Gonzalo Gil and with the governor Jaime Caruana, who was much more restrictive than the deputy governor in their positions. And that they were also summoned together with BBVA in the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) because they were interested in knowing the details and specific positions of the operation.
After all these movements in search of political and economic support for the entry into the entity, finally on February 15, 2005 the Board of Directors of Sacyr Vallehermoso formally decided not to continue with the operation, and in just one night the construction company decided to sell its shares in BBVA with a 3 percent discount.
As he explained, the decision was made after the Windsor fire and after “knowing” that there was an Anti-Corruption investigation into the Merryll-Lynch papers, related to Francisco González’s securities company, whose reports the consulting firm Deloitte had in said edifice. Therefore, he added, given this escalation in the “war” they decided to leave the operation.