The president of BBVA,Carlos Torres Vila, he has thankedFrancisco Gonzálezitstemporary resignation as honorary presidentof the bank and the Foundation, while ensuring that PwC has transferred to him that they will be required"Several months"more of work in the external investigation that he carries out together with Garrigues and Uría Menéndez for the 'Villarejo case'.
This has been indicated by Torres before giving way to the intervention of shareholders in the ordinary meeting held this Friday at the Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao, which is his first appointment as president and with the shadow of the alleged relationship from the bank of González's time with the private detective firm Cenyt,linked to the imprisoned former commissar José Manuel Villarejo.
"First of all, I would like to thank Francisco González for his resignation from his position as honorary president of BBVA and the Foundation, pending the completion of ongoing investigations, since he wants to avoid using his personto damage the image of the bank", has underlined the 'number one' of the entity, after Gonzalez sent him a letter yesterday communicating his decision to depart.
Torres explained that, as a result of the news that appeared in the media, they decided to launch an internal investigation that consisted in the revision of contracts, invoices, services rendered, contract procedures followed,"with the complexity" that has to workwith information relating to such a long period of time. Alleged illicit activities began in 2004 and continued until 2017.
It was from January 9, when information began to appear that pointed to the monitoring and intervention of private communications, when BBVA decided to change its strategy. "That date marked a turning point," he revealed.
As Torres recalled, he himself sent a letter to the employees of the entity after the appearance of the first news, that if true, "it would be conduct undoubtedlyvery serious, deplorable and contraryto the values of BBVA. "
In that letter, Torres already reported a change in the scope of the investigation and in the resources dedicated to it, so since mid-January the research has a focus"totally different"of 2018.
Currently, the research is led by the law firms Garrigues, Uría Menéndez and the consultancy PwC, "all with the impulse of the board of directors", and the interest of BBVA is"move forward and conclude as quickly as possible", although given the scope, "it will take several months of work and as important or more than doing the quick research is doing it well".
Torres also recalled that the facts are being investigated by the National Court in the 'Tandem case', referring to alleged bad practices of some members or former members of the Police. "What I can assure you is that we are actively collaborating with the Justice, always trying the best for the interests of the bank," he said.
No impact on the business to date
As it is a judicial proceeding, Torres has explained that it is subject to secrecy, so the entity can not reveal information referring to the procedure, which is also conditioned by the information thatcan provide on the internal investigation of BBVA.
Likewise, the entity is also analyzing the possible effects that the information could have on the group's activity and on the market, and to date BBVA has not found significant impacts on its business or on the contributions caused by the investigation.
"BBVA has been, is andwill remain an honest bank and will continue to act as such.We will continue investigating with all rigor and possible speed, collaborating with the authorities as we have been doing, and will take based on proven facts the decisions that proceed to resolve the situation, always acting in the best interest of the bank, which is that of our shareholders " , stressed the president of the entity.
Doubts about the case among shareholders
Repeatedly, after the insistent questions of the 14 shareholders who intervened and asked to shed light on the 'Villarejo case', Torres has referred that his explanation is"limited" given the judicialization of the process.
Those attending the assembly have also requested explanations from the chairman of the audit and regulatory compliance committee,José Manuel Tordecilla.In line with Torres, Tordecilla explained that following the news that appeared in the media last January, he convened an extraordinary meeting that was held on the 18th of that same month.
"In it, we were informed of the facts known to the entity up to that date and the commission assumed oversight of the investigation.The clarification of the facts is an essential element to be able to submit to the board of directors the proposals that correspond" , has pointed.