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Spain: big bosses overtaken by espionage scandal

2019-11-22T06:07:40.515Z

Spain: big bosses overtaken by espionage scandal



Madrid (AFP)

Ex-boss of a bank under investigation, espionage during stock market battles: the great Spanish bosses see the surface of old business having as protagonist a former sulfur policeman whose revelations shake the high spheres of the country.

Ministers and the royal family have already been splashed by the publication in recent years at regular intervals of recordings of former Commissioner Jose Manuel Villarejo. In prison since 2017, he was described as "master-singer" by the head of government Pedro Sanchez.

But the scandal of espionage on a large scale by Mr. Villarejo also reaches the stars of the Madrid Stock Exchange, starting with the second Spanish bank BBVA, whose former boss emblematic Francisco Gonzalez had to withdraw in March.

This week, the case caught up with two other figures from the business world: the tycoon of concrete Florentino Perez, leader of the construction giant ACS and president of the Real Madrid football club, and his nemesis Ignacio Galan, boss of the Iberdrola energy multinational.

According to Villarejo's recordings published by two Spanish online media on Monday, the second would have spied the first via the services of the famous commissioner around 2009 to prevent ACS from rising to the capital of Iberdrola.

Florentino Perez immediately announced in a statement that he was acting as a "private accuser", a legal procedure that will enable him to "bring criminal and civil actions against potential perpetrators, which could include (...) the president of the country. 'Iberdrola and people around him'.

- Resignation -

In the wake, ACS announced the resignation of its board of Manuel Delgado, deemed very close to Florentino Perez, while one of the records reveals a compromising conversation between him and the Commissioner Villarejo.

After an internal investigation, Iberdrola acknowledged in October that it had recourse 17 times to the services of the Cenyt group, headed by the commissioner and theoretically responsible for market research, between 2004 and 2017 but had assured that "all internal controls and procedures (had) been correctly implemented ".

After new revelations, however, the group decided to launch a new internal investigation at the beginning of October.

According to a judicial source, the National Hearing Court, charged with investigating the sprawling Villarejo case, has opened an investigation specifically dedicated to Iberdrola.

This week, this court has also seen past and present senior executives of BBVA, summoned by the judge, including Francisco Gonzalez. Ten have been indicted for corruption and revealing secrets. They are suspected of having used the Commissioner's illegal wiretapping in 2004 to prevent the Sacyr construction group from entering the bank's capital.

After the publication of first compromising recordings at the beginning of 2019, Mr. Gonzalez had to give up honorary positions in March that he still held at BBVA. The bank admitted to having used Villarejo's services and opened an internal investigation.

- Blackmail -

But "once the (judicial investigation) is over, it will be very clear (...) that the BBVA group and its leaders have always worked in an honest and exemplary way," defended Mr. Gonzalez to the press .

"The ramifications of Villarejo in the economic power leave a bitter taste", even if "they do not cause a gigantic surprise either," analyzed, fatalistic, the economic daily Cinco Dias Tuesday.

For years, this former commissioner has unknowingly recorded personalities from the world of politics, economics and the judiciary.

He is also accused of having enriched himself by being paid to mount campaigns of discredit, threatening or blackmail. Documents recovered by Villarejo and other police officers have also been used by the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy to dirty their political opponents.

Former King Juan Carlos I was not spared. In a recording attributed to Villarejo released in 2018, his ex-mistress, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, claimed to have served as a nominee to the sovereign to hide part of its heritage abroad.

And in a statement issued in August by several Spanish media, Villarejo threatened to make new revelations about other large companies.

© 2019 AFP

Source: france24

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