Banking

Spain’s High Court Formally Investigating BBVA

Spain-investigates-BBVA

Spain’s High Court announced that BBVA is now under formal investigation related to an alleged spying case.

The anti-corruption public prosecutor made the request for the investigation last week. As a result, BBVA will be probed on charges of bribery, disclosure secrets and corruption related to the company’s alleged dealings with former police chief Jose Manuel Villarejo.

In a statement, BBVA’s Executive Chairman Carlos Torres reiterated the company’s “firm commitment to clarifying the facts and complying with the law,” according to Reuters.

Earlier this month, the bank’s former chief operating officer, Ángel Cano, along with seven other current and former bank executives, including former security chief Julio Corrochano, were named as a person of interest in the investigation.

The investigation centers on Villarejo, who was reportedly hired by the bank to spy on executives of a possible buyer as well as government officials in 2004, when 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.

BBVA has 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 probe.

“If true, it would undoubtedly be extremely serious, deplorable behavior,” Torres Vila said, adding 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.

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