Several former BBVA advisers have felt snooped and watched for several years after leaving the financial institution's governing body, although they have never reported it. In some cases, there was even evidence, in other mere suspicions and many conjectures about what might be hidden behind. Now, the bank's 14-year hiring of the excomissio José Manuel Villarejo and the alleged espionage work commissioned directly by its president, Francisco González, was revealed. the suspicions have turned into condemnation.
This was reported to EL CORREO by some of the former advisors of the entity that resigned – in fact, it must be said that they were dismissed or forced to resign – in 2002, after the existence of assets of former BBV was discovered that remained outside of the entity's balance sheet, managed by companies based in Jersey. An issue that had already led to the end of 2001 the resignation of the then co-president of the bank, Emilio Ybarra, and the CEO, Pedro Luis Uriarte..
"For several years I was absolutely certain that my phones were controlled, as well as those of my closest relatives. We all noticed strange things, like repeating the conversation you just had when I picked up the phone again, "says a former bank advisor at the time.
The tension between this group of BBV and Francisco González advisors was more than evident. The emergence of this parallel operation that the entity had for decades, He also discovered the opening of pension funds on behalf of the 22 directors who came from the Basque bank, formalized shortly before the merger with Argentaria and for a combined value of 19.3 million euros. The money came from Jersey accounts and everything pointed to it being a last compensation to the directors, since from that moment and after the merger their rewards would be significantly reduced in the new board.
Although viewed from a historical perspective that compensation – the average was less than 900,000 euros per director – should be qualified as "marginal" compared to the compensation paid by the bank in the last decade to some of its senior positions, the truth is that It was the lever in which Francisco González leaned to make a real sweep at the top of the corporation. From that moment on, the directors who came from Argentaria became the majority and González was able to start managing the bank without obstacles or opposition.
«I always suspected that the escorts were passing information to the bank. Where I went, who I met, what I said in his presence …", Points out another former bank advisor. Francisco González himself, they say, "insisted" that the financial institution pay the escorting expenses of the former advisors, despite the circumstances in which they left the bank and the existing tension.
Although at that time almost everyone understood this as a "logical gesture", since many of them had their habitual residence in the Basque Country and their public notoriety put them in the center of the target of the extortion of the terrorist band ETA "Regardless of its work like companions and that they were very nice people, and also that their main mission was to protect me, I always had the idea that what they saw would be known by Francisco González", Adds the former counselor.
- Controlled communications.
One of them even listened to their own conversations before picking up their phone.
- Power struggle
Some offered their support to the operation of Sacyr, which motivated the hiring of Villarejo.
Years face to face
The tension between this group of directors and the president of BBVA remained alive for many years and not only because the matter resulted in a judicial process instructed by Judge Garzón – the Supreme Court ruled that there was no illegal action in the case of the funds. pensions, but also because some were identified as protagonists in the operation which, precisely, would encourage Francisco González to hire the services of Villarejo.
The attempt by Luis del Rivero – president of Sacyr – and Juan Abelló to take control of the bank and depose Francisco González, had the implicit endorsement of some former advisors who had significant shareholdings. According to information leaks in recent weeks, the bank hired Villarejo's services to defend this group of the methods used seem to smell illegally on all four sides.
According to this information, Villarejo spied on hundreds of businessmen, senior officials of the CNMV and even members of the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, monitoring and recording their telephone conversations. Summaries of these conversations, at least the fundamental part of what had to do with Sacyr's attempt to aggression to the bank's leadership, were handed over to the security chief of the entity, Julio Corrochano, who in his Once informed Francisco Gonzalez.
Doubts about the initial investigation by the bank
BBVA officially acknowledged that it initiated an internal investigation in June of the payments made to Villarejo, whose result is unknown. Recently, the entity contracted the services of two external firms to reinforce and deepen this work. Yesterday, however, it was learned that the first investigation had been entrusted to the head of internal audit, Joaquin Gortari. And this despite the fact that Gortari, former chief of staff and man of the highest confidence of Francisco González, acted as an intermediary in some commissions made to Villarejo. In particular, according to information known yesterday, a study on safety in the Aegean was carried out in mid-2016, shortly before the BBVA president started vacationing in that area after hiring a schooner.