The former chief operating officer of Spanish lender BBVA is under investigation for corporate spying.
Ángel Cano, along with seven other current and former bank executives, including former security chief Julio Corrochano, has been named as a person of interest in the investigation. A judge in Spain’s National Court has called on the accused to testify later this week about allegations of bribery and the disclosure of confidential information, according to The Financial Times.
The matter involves Jose Manuel Villarejo, who was reportedly hired by the bank to spy on executives of a possible buyer as well as government officials in 2004, at which time Francisco González was executive chairman of the bank. BBVA reportedly acknowledged its hiring of the security firm Grupo Cenyt, which was owned by Villarejo, for different services, but did not find any evidence of spying.
Cano served from 2009 to 2015 as deputy to González.
After media reports earlier this year, BBVA revealed that it had been investigating its work with Cenyt since June 2018. Several days later, existing BBVA chairman Carlos Torres Vila wrote a letter to employees about the state of the probe.
“If true, it would undoubtedly be extremely serious, deplorable behavior,” Torres Vila said. He added that it would likely take months for the investigation, led by auditor PwC, to be completed.
“It is in our interest to move forward as quickly as possible, but given the scope, PwC has told us that several months of work will be required before we see the first results,” Torres said back in March, right after González stepped down from his honorary chairmanship so that he would not be used to “damage” BBVA.
“The judicial inquiry is making progress as should be the case. As the group executive chairman [Mr Torres Vila] said, the inquiry is what matters and we have nothing more to add,” the bank said in a statement Tuesday (July 2).