Judge calls for BBVA and former chairman to stand trial for hiring police commissioner to spy on rivals

BBVA Holvi

The National Court judge Manuel García Castellón has proposed to put BBVA and its former president Francisco González on trial for bribery crimes in degree of continuity, in addition to disclosure of secrets, for hiring the police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo to carry out various illegal assignments between 2004 and 2016. In an order of 268 pages, the head of the Central Court of Instruction Number 6 concludes the investigation that began in 2018 and also processes, among a dozen executives of the entity and police commanders, the former head of Security Ángel Corrochano; the former CEO of the bank, Ángel Cano, or the former Director of Risks, Antonio Béjar. This order can be appealed before the Criminal Court, but if it is rejected, there would already be an order to open an oral trial, against which the defendants could do nothing.

The magistrate has adopted the report of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office in which he states that the beginning of the facts arose with the BBVA’s hiring of the former police commissioner Julio Corrochano in September 2002. This hiring, it says, had the express approval of its executive president, Francisco González, and allowed a link between the entity and the former colleagues of the aforementioned police officer, among whom were the active police commissioners José Manuel Villarejo and Enrique García Castaño.

For the judge, “the existing evidence could be summarised without being exhaustive in the audios intercepted in the house searches, which show that he himself not only knew about and authorised the illegal activities for which Cenyt had been contracted, but that it was by his express order that he proceeded to contract with Villarejo”. In the order, the magistrate insists that he was “the person who received the reports prepared, as well as the one who had control of the act for its continuity”. Likewise, he adds, “he was the person who ordered that the investigations into the businessmen Fernando Martín and Luis Portillo be reopened, as well as the cause of the 2014 contract and the investigation into Felipe Izquierdo.

The order points out that although Julio Corrochano knew about the “double” activity of his partner José Villarejo through the so-called Cenyt Group, he informed González of the existence “of such an anomalous and illegal resource” and even guaranteed him total discretion and opacity if it was used. Corrochano took advantage of the absence of control and supervision over his executive decisions within the entity, authorised and allowed the contracting, guaranteeing that only a group of senior managers knew about it.

The magistrate considers it proven that the investigated parties were aware that by hiring Villarejo they were violating the entity’s internal regulations by contracting with a corporate structure directed by an active police officer who collected data in exchange for payments to active police officers, as well as obtaining illegal access to confidential files.

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