The former president of BBVA Francisco González has decided to leave "temporarily" the positions he still has in the Foundation and in the bank (he is honorary president in both organizations) while the ongoing investigations are ending about him Villarejo case, by which the bank is linked with a supposed espionage to companies, journalists and politicians in the stage in which González was president. This has been announced in a letter that has sent the current president Carlos Torres, which have had access to Reuters and Europa Press, which has distributed later.
BBVA has declined to comment and has indicated that it has been a decision taken by Gonzalez himself.
Gonzalez says he takes the decision to temporarily step aside "to avoid using his person to harm the entity." In the letter sent to Torres González he is convinced that his decision "will help to understand with what rigor, lack of personal interest and commitment we have worked for so long".
The former president reviews in the two-page letter (which starts with Torres addressed to a "Dear President") the moments "of tension, of difficulties, of hostilities of interest groups" that the bank has passed in its years of history. He cites the "case of secret accounts" (for which Emilio Ybarra and the advisers of the former BBV left the entity); Sacyr's attempt "to appropriate the bank with the inexplicable collaboration of the Government" (a maneuver that is precisely linked to Villarejo's espionage, allegedly charged by the bank chaired by him); as well as the Bankia IPO, the creation of the bad bank or the Ausbanc case, among others.
González, who asks his successor to transfer the letter to the board of directors with all his "affection and gratitude", says that for a year they have suffered "a long and continuous media aggression arising from police and judicial investigations, on a case of great journalistic repercussion around a former police commissar and his work at the head of a research company hired at the time by the bank. "
Pre-decision to a difficult meeting
González's letter to Carlos Torres is known one day before the celebration of the bank's general meeting of shareholders, held in Bilbao. Carlos Torres, who has only been in charge of the entity for two and a half months, will face the toughest shareholders meeting in 17 years. On the bank they plan alleged illegal eavesdropping, payments to the most corrupt police, the retired Commissioner Villarejo, the pressure of Audiencia that has opened an investigation, a bad behavior on the Stock Exchange, the departure of Francisco González with a pension of 80 million and the push of the ECB to clarify these issues as soon as possible because they damage your reputation.
The hottest point is related to the alleged espionage that for the bank made the company of the retired curator Villarejo. BBVA made payment payments to Cenyt, the company of this former police officer. The total amount of these payments to Cenyt, from 2004 to 2017, amounts to 10 million euros, according to sources familiar with these operations, which amount to 100 million BBVA's annual budget for security. According to the bank, in theory most of the payments were for work to look for properties of delinquent clients. González has always assured that he did not know anything about the relationship of the entity and Villarejo.
The bank conducted an internal investigation from June to December 2018, still under the presidency of Francisco González, and has started another external one, an analysis forensic, in January, captained by PwC, Uría and Garrigues. So far, the entity says it has not found any document that incriminates González; Torres said he trusted his predecessor. He had no plans to ask him to resign from his honorary positions if there was no evidence. However, Gonzalez himself has taken the step through the letter sent to Torres.
Further, Last February the Central Court of Instruction number 6 of the National Court demanded that BBVA deliver all the reports that were in its possession on the jobs that the retired commissioner had been doing for the bank, in provisional prison.
On the other hand, Francisco González has other open fronts: this same Thursday the former vice-president of the CNMV Carlos Arenillas has filed a lawsuit against Villarejo, González and former bank security chief Julio Corrochano in the same court for the espionage he allegedly was submitted when he held his position. The complaint accuses those involved for the crimes, at least, of intervention of communications carried out by a public official, seizure of company secrets, crime against honor and crime of coercion.