The fight against corruption opens the door for Carlos Torres to testify about BBVA’s contracts with Villarejo

BBVA President Carlos Torres during the March 17 shareholder meeting.Vincent West (Reuters)

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office made a brief presentation before National Court Judge Manuel García Castellón, opening the door for the invitation to testify. The current president of the BBVA, Carlos Torres Villadue to alleged breaches in the contracts Financial entity with retired Commissioner Jose Manuel Viareggio. Despite being the second-in-command of former President Francisco Gonzalez, already charged in the case, Torres has not yet been summoned to appear before an examining magistrate. The two prosecutors in the case, Miguel Serrano and Alejandro Caballero, are now raising this possibility if it blossoms. The appeal filed by the bank on July 5 To oppose the statement of the Bank’s Director of Legal Services, María Jesús Arribas de Paz, scheduled for Friday. The BBVA defense and Anticorrupción have faced off vigorously in the case for some time, with cross-cutting accusations.

The bank has asked Arribas not to testify, arguing that he is part of the entity’s “defense team” by maintaining, through his position, close contact with the law firm appointed to defend the entity in the case. For this reason, BBVA Communications, Arribas is protected by the professional secrecy of legal professionals. In addition, the entity insists that it had “no immediate knowledge” of the bank’s contracts with Villarejo, which were signed between 2004 and 2017 and for which the retired policeman received 10.3 million euros.

Anti-Corruption rejects both arguments in its brief. In the first place, it denies that Arribas is part of the bank’s legal team in the case and reduces his role within the entity to that of a “law graduate in charge of the company’s legal department” protected by no more than confidentiality. Drawn from your senior management contract. Therefore, he insists that his statement does not violate the bank’s right of defense or the professional secrecy of the board of directors.

Regarding the possible ignorance that the Director of Legal Services may have had of the bank’s connections to the Commissioner before the scandal broke, the OTP highlights that there is an email in the summary she received from another employee of the entity in November of 2017 – when the Commissioner was arrested but not The clip about his alleged illegal work for the bank opens – revealing that she “was aware of Cenyt’s existence [la empresa utilizada por Villarejo como epicentro de su trama societaria]In addition, the aforementioned company has an existing contract with BBVA.

On this point, the Anti-Corruption Program highlights that the BBVA Board of Directors held on July 30, 2019 agreed that Torres and Arribas, “indistinctly and jointly”, will designate the person who should represent the bank from that moment before the judge, once it has been His indictment as a legal person a few days ago, as well as the people who will form the entity’s legal defense team.

“This can be inferred – the prosecution’s brief continues – from the high degree of knowledge of what happened with Cenyt that Carlos Torres Vila and María Jesús Arribas de Paz had. We cannot share that this is implied to be part of the ‘defence team’ because If the execution of the delegation was carried out by Carlos Torres Villa, would he form part of the “defense team”? Or, in such a case, would he have to be called because he is not a lawyer given the impossibility of his subordinate, “says Anticorrupción, opening the door to Torres’s summons because he will not It is protected by the professional secret that the Bank has for the Director of Legal Services.

The letter also mentions that a few months before that board, the bank’s committee met to launch a project in which the relationship between BBVA itself and the Villarejo companies would be verified. Torres and four other executives participated in that meeting, and three others, including Arribas, were “summoned” to participate in it. Of the latter, the letter confirms that only the Director of Legal Services, to be precise, remains.

The anti-corruption brief is a new episode of the open confrontation he is waging with the BBVA defense in the case, which was in its previous episode last January, when the prosecution submitted a brief request to extend the judicial investigation for another six. Months in the case, which accused the bank of delaying investigations for providing “partial and biased information”, handing out “incomplete” emails and obstructing “every attempt to gather evidence”. This wasn’t the first time he’d done this. In July 2021, in another write To request an extension of the investigation, the prosecution had previously indicated this The alleged cooperation that BBVA claimed in its writings to provide in the investigations It wasn’t real.

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