Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The judge did not find “meaning” in the ‘Villarejo-BBVA case’ apart from Gonzalez’s self-incriminating version.

Former BBVA President Francisco González, in the center of the image, arrives at the National Court this Friday with his lawyers to testify in the ‘Villarejo case’.Gustavo Valente (Europa Press)

Francisco González, former president of the BBVA, went this Friday to the National Court to testify for the second time as defendant of the work that, over the years, retired commissioner José Manuel Villarejo had done for the financial institution. He has done so at his own request and with a very clear strategy: shift all responsibility for the contract, for which the bank paid 10.3 million euros, to his subordinates, as he said in his first appearance before the judge. Did it in September 2019. However, González has faced very intense questioning by the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office and with a number of questions from Magistrate Manuel García-Castellán, with whom he has questioned part of his self-incriminating testimony, according to which he agreed. are pointing to several of the participants in the EL PAIS statement.

Instructor García-Castellón has been particularly judgmental when he has taken the floor, and has gone so far as to confirm that he did not “understand” anything other than Francisco González’s version of his behavior at the end of the attempt. . 2004, to gain control of the bank by construction company Sacyr. Because, at one point during the questioning, the former president downplayed the importance of the operation, which he described as “trivial”, despite the fact that he had previously acknowledged that, when it took place, So it captured their entire ” agenda”. Furthermore, the Villarejo group of companies, Senit, came to produce several reports on the subject for BBVA. And, as Gonzalez himself admitted, two of them ended up on his desk.

“There were two notes, one or two pages long, that didn’t say anything,” Gonzalez explained, adding that he didn’t know they were made by a detective agency (“They were summaries made inside the bank.” seemed to be”, “without any reference to calling traffic or any matter that might be illegal”), so he was unaware that Villarejo was behind it. It was at this moment that García-Castellón asked him that, if the contents of those notes were irrelevant and “nonsense”, why did he not order the relationship to end, given that they were paying a “significant” amount of money. “What does it mean, when they present the two reports, they don’t say: ‘They are kidding me!?’, said the magistrate.

Gonzalez’s response has been, once again, to shift responsibility onto his subordinates. In particular, the head of security, Julio Corochano, and his superior, former counselor Ángel Cano – he has said were the ones who gave him the Senate notes. Corochano and Cano blamed the former president for the hiring when it was announced late last year. “Villarejo wants to sell his product, which is smoke, and someone in the bank accepts it”, the former president of BBVA also accosted himself.

“Do you accept it?” The judge pressed him.

“No,” answered Gonzalez, who has emphasized that he was not the one who made the hiring decision, which he attributes to Corochano.

The interrogation lasted for about three hours

The prosecutor’s office has also questioned a portion of Gonzalez’s answers. In the questioning, which lasted almost three hours, the representative of the Ministry of Public Affairs affected many details of the various works done by Villarejo for BBVA that are under suspicion. The anti-corruptionist’s insistence has gone as far as showing him invoices, emails and press clippings that question his version. But the former head of the bank has reiterated that his subordinates never told him that Villarejo was behind Sennett, the existence of which he says he did not learn until 2018. Active to a police officer, and has claimed the initiative to launch an internal investigation when the scandal broke.

However, Anticorruption has questioned part of these justifications, noting that it is unlikely that the information illegally obtained by Villarejo did not rise up the BBVA chain of command. As the prosecutor said in his interrogation, Senit “served objectives” and obtained confidential data from the victims. ,[La trama] Get all that information, keep it, and tell them nothing? Is that what you say?”, has been taken up by the Ministry of Public Affairs, which also recalled that, in the audio interjected by the Commissioner, Corochano is heard affirming that the Cesir issue “must be done well”. Because “he wants to look good” with whom he was named.

In his statement, Francisco González has assured that he did not know about Villarejo’s recruitment until May 2018 and that he was also not aware of the activities carried out by the Senate while he was in charge of the BBVA. However, the former bank president has admitted that before the two candidates offered him the position of head of security, he told him he liked Corochano more. But he has downplayed it and qualified that it was only his recommendation. Then his lawyer Jesús Santos, who leads the team of three lawyers he hired from the renowned international law firm Baker Mackenzie, intervened to ensure that his client undermined Villarejo Audio’s credibility. . Thus, in response to questions from his defence, the former BBVA president has stated that he does not recognize the “authenticity” of these recordings: “The identity is not certain. [de quienes intervienen]Nor integrity. There are half sentences. It is a hodgepodge of information. The authors of the audios themselves contradict their content and those audios are full of lies.

The banker, accused of bribery and disclosure of secrets, continued in the same line: “It’s impressive how many things can be manufactured in those audios,” he said. Furthermore, he has emphasized that he did not participate in the conversations that led to the gathering of these files, insisting: “There is no indication that I knew the spy company was called CNET, Nor did I give instructions to investigate Jeevan employees.These people, nor did they know that this company was doing illegal things.

Although Gonzalez devoted a good portion of his appearance to blaming three subordinates for the commissioner’s hiring—besides Corochano and Cano, he pointed to former director Antonio Bejar, whom he accused of lying. He has also taken the opportunity to taunt BBVA, which has been accused as a legal entity. The former president has accused the unit of its judicial position for confirming in a letter sent to the National Court in July 2019, shortly after the investigation. Villarejo case, that it was the former president who had promoted the hiring of Sennett to investigate Ausbank. He said, “There has been a fundamental error that has dragged and driven me.” A bank representative later corrected the statement. “It would have been a very serious act by the bank, because I never knew about that contract,” Gonzalez said, according to legal sources.

spying on journalists

At one point during the questioning, Gonzalez’s lawyer asked him about El Pais and the information. Expansion In June 2016 a future change in the bank’s leadership was exclusively handled which would leave the current president, Carlos Torres. number two Compared to other BBVA officials who were removed. Police found that the cell phones of reporters investigating this information, Inigo de Barron and Jorge Zuloaga, as well as the cellphones of a third party, José Antonio Navas, were allegedly tapped by Sennett to trace those telephone numbers. from whom they had received it. calls or who made them.

González has declared that he remembers the information, that it was “private and sensitive to the bank”, but that it “did not damage the image of BBVA as such news often appeared”. The lawyer asked, “Were you informed that these journalists are being probed to find out what was the source of the information they had in the bank?” “Absolutely not”, was the former president’s response.

—Were you ever subject to an internal audit of the orders given by you, the steps taken by you as the President of BBVA? — the prosecutor also launched during the interrogation.

“My whole performance was monitored. First of all, by the board of directors, by a specific commission, which was the audit commission – answered Gonzalez.

—Was that commission made up of people you could name and dismiss?

—No, I could propose, not the name.

—Do you remember any appointment offer that was not accepted?

—When the appointment is proposed, all the councilors are consulted beforehand. So, when it comes to a Council, of all the institutions in the world, I do not remember a single case where a President’s proposal has been rejected.

The commission’s investigation of the financial entity to the commissioner – which has accused some twenty people, including Villarejo himself, Francisco González and BBVA as a legal entity – was carried out within one of more than 30 pieces opened by the judge. Macrosumario opened to possible criminal activities of the policeman. The investigation revealed that the relationship between the bank and Villarejo began in 2004, when the construction company Sasir tried to gain control of the banking group. This link remained in place until at least 2018. During that period BBVA gave a total of 18 commissions to the commissioner. To carry out this espionage assignment, the retired policeman allegedly illegally accessed “a large amount of personal data” from police databases, according to reports included in the summary.

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