Tue. Apr 23rd, 2019

The shareholders of BBVA carry hard against González in a very tense meeting | Economy

The shareholders of BBVA carry hard against González in a very tense meeting | Economy



The president of BBVA, Carlos Torres, has been released this morning at the shareholders' meeting from the bank. The executive has only been two and a half months at the head of the entity and has had to deal with the fury of many shareholders, who have asked for the floor and are harshly charged against the former president, Francisco González. On today's meeting, the case of illegal eavesdropping by the company of the retired curator Villarejo allegedly for the bank in the stage in which his predecessor, González, was at the forefront. Yesterday Gonzalez announced that he was "temporarily" moving away from his charges of honor in the bank, while the investigation lasts.

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Torres, upon his arrival at the meeting, has assured that the bank will continue to "rigorously" investigate the so-called Villarejo case and collaborating "actively with the Justice" in the clarification of the facts "in the interest of the entity". But for many shareholders it does not seem enough. One after another has taken the floor to charge against the previous president and warn the bank of the consequences of the current crisis. About two and a half hours after starting the meeting, 12 shareholders had intervened. All of them have devoted their time to talk about the theme Villarejo, absolute protagonist.

Paulino García-Toraño, representative of the Association Uniter de Exempleados of the BBVA group, which represents three million shares, said that this problem "has all the appearance of ending up in the courts" and claimed that it was José Miguel Andrés, president of the Audit and Compliance Committee and coordinating counselor of the independent directors, who responded to the meeting "how all the internal controls may have failed" in order to make those payments of up to 10 million to Cenyt, the company of former commissioner Villarejo. This association demanded González's temporary march "to become a definitive departure" because his damage has not only been "reputational, something unquestionable but possibly patrimonial to the bank".

On the other hand, representatives of UGT, CC OO and ACB, representing 73% of the staff, who are concerned "seriously a possible false closing of the case" of this matter, as well as the delay in its "clarification", which affects the "reputational image and credibility" of the bank. He asked Torres for "rigor, forcefulness and speed in the decisions to be made". In the same vein, other unions that accused the board of having pressured the workforce to gather support from clients and shareholders were also manifested.

"Collaborate with justice"

Before starting the meeting in Bilbao, Torres made some brief statements. There he has made the comments on the investigation, but he has avoided talking about the resignation of Gonzalez, which occurred yesterday afternoon. Afterwards, the executive has delivered his speech before the shareholders, and before the question time - which was already long expected, due to the tension in the entity experienced as a result of the espionage case, as well as the bad performance of the action in the final stage of González-, Torres has insisted that the bank will continue to "collaborate with justice." The executive has denied that for the moment the case is affecting the bank's business or its quotation on the stock market. The entity also has an extensive internal investigation underway to clarify the bank's role in these alleged illegal wiretapping, carried out on politicians, businessmen and journalists, during the confrontation with Sacyr in 2004, who tried to seize power in the bank.

The president of BBVA has tried to focus his words on the bank's progress, and to send shareholders an optimistic message. He has assessed that 2018 has been "very important and very positive for the bank, with results of more than 5,300 million euros, driven by the growth of recurring revenues, the containment of expenses and an important surplus value in Chile". He also talked about the importance of the fight against climate change and the role that banks should play in social concerns.

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