Sat. Apr 20th, 2019

Former BBVA president Francisco González admits that he suggested Rato resign from Bankia with the blessing of Minister De Guindos

Former BBVA president Francisco González admits that he suggested Rato resign from Bankia with the blessing of Minister De Guindos

Former BBVA president Francisco González has admitted that he suggested Rodrigo Rato resign at a meeting held on Sunday, May 6, 2012, which was also attended by the president of Banco Santander, Emilio Botín, and that of La Caixa, Isidro Fainé, as well as as the then Minister of Economy Luis de Guindos.

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This is what Gonzalez has said, now questioned by his relationship with the jailed former commander José Manuel Villarejo, during his testimony as a witness in the trial that investigates the Bankia IPO in July 2011 that takes place at the National Court of San Fernando de Henares (Madrid).

"I, personally, told him to resign," said the witness before the fourth section of the criminal chamber, adding that Rato's departure from the Bankia presidency was "the best for all and to give a viable solution" to the problem.

He also assured that, when he made this suggestion, the former Economy Minister Luis de Guindos nodded, while Fainé was "hesitant". Gonzalez has remarked that Rato did not take it badly. "I do not remember that I had a negative or violent reaction when I suggested that he resign," he added.

On the other hand, the former president of BBVA has said that he thought that José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, who would later assume the presidency of Bankia, would never accept that position. In fact, he remarked that he "never thought" that it would be Goirigolzarri, former 'number two' of BBVA, who would replace Rato.

Stop the Bankia IPO

Gonzalez has said he thought he could stop the Bankia IPO by "implacably" refusing to participate in the operation, thus going "against the political power and very relevant institutions."

"We thought that BBVA was very relevant and not being in the operation could influence everything to stop, but in the end they ignored us," he said before the fourth section of the criminal chamber.

As he stated, the fact that there was no order from a foreign investor and the fact that the valuation made by the BBVA technicians was so low, confirmed that a "disaster" was going to take place. "We thought it was worth nothing or little," he added.

In this sense, González has indicated that he does not believe that "there was fraud," but that there was a set of circumstances that caused such a situation. "I can not say that there was cheating, I do not believe that there was fraud, but a set of circumstances propitiated mainly by the political power," he added.

He also assured that refusing to participate in the Bankia IPO was a "very complicated" decision, since they went against the pressures and interests of the political power, of "very relevant" institutions and of all the groups economic

"Everyone participated less BBVA", he underlined, while indicating that it was the Government itself that "promoted" the public subscription offer (PAHO).

"If the flotation failed, Spain failed," Gonzalez stressed, for whom this operation was an "error", since it was done "just the opposite of what should be done." "I always had the opinion that things were not going well, that operation should not go on," he said.

"Fear" to contagion

González has affirmed that Bankia was "the story of a day" and that its problems aroused "fear" in the market due to possible contagion to the financial system given its size, while criticizing that the Bank of Spain was the only one that did not I wanted to accept the problem, so the Government, through the Ministry of Economy, had to act.

"Bankia is the story of a day, everyone was hanging, aroused fear because of its size, the feeling was that there were very serious problems and, or something was done, or it could drag the whole financial system," he said. witness before the fourth section of the criminal chamber.

As reported, in 2007 the crisis began, while a year later the problems accelerated. In Spain, however, he explained that the position that the "best" financial system was maintained, trying to help through the mechanisms of the SIPs, was maintained. "This was, in short, to collect bad boxes with bad boxes and take out worse boxes," he added.

"In the case of Bankia, Caja Madrid was in a difficult situation, but probably not so much, as a result of the SIP it began to deteriorate and the inclusion of Bancaja was the final touch", stressed the former president of BBVA.

Gonzalez explained that when De Guindos came to the Government had as its main task to assess the capital gap of the financial system, so decided to establish the famous decree provisions known vulgarly as 'Guindos I', which would not be enough and subsequently led to approve a 'Guindos II'. "Logically, they affected the smaller entities more than the larger ones," he said.

The quotes of Spanish financial institutions had been falling since 2010. "The falls were very large, no doubt," he said. At that time, the perception of Bankia was "very negative".

"Little credible accounts"

In fact, the former president of BBVA has acknowledged that Bankia's accounts, in February 2012, were "not very credible". "The numbers presented by the bank were a form far removed from reality," he criticized.

As noted, managers have a margin to move when setting numbers, since some issues are based on "value judgments", but the general feeling was that the benefits were "very high". "Nobody believed nothing," he said.

For González, Bankia's problems were a process of "continuous deterioration", not sudden. "The famous SIPs did not solve anything, in the case of Bankia, it was also aggravating it," he has ruled. In this regard, he stressed that the fear was that the lack of credibility could drag the entire financial system and, later, the economy, companies and families.

At the beginning of May, then Minister of Economy Luis de Guindos summoned the main bankers to several meetings. The reason for the call, according to Gonzalez, was to talk about the economic situation, although there was also talk of Bankia. "You had to talk about the issue, it was what worried everyone," he stressed.

Those meetings were attended by the minister and the main executives of Bankia, BBVA, Santander and Caixa, but the Bank of Spain did not attend. "The natural entity that should govern these things is the Bank of Spain and it was not there, that each one makes his assessment", he has reproached.

The former banker, who was president of BBVA for more than two decades, has indicated that the position of the supervisor, who was also previously regulator, was to "buy time and clarify the issues without entering the State."

"Somehow the feeling that everything was going well was being created, and everything was not going well, so for whatever reasons I can not comment, the Bank of Spain did not want to accept the problem and De Guindos had to face it", has said.

No response to the Villarejo case

Gonzalez, who was summoned to testify as a witness on Wednesday before the National Court, arrived ten minutes before the time set by the court chaired by Angela Murillo.

At his entrance and, after being asked by journalists for the 'Villarejo case', the former president of BBVA said "today we come to something else". His appearance has lasted exactly one and a half hours.


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