February 3, 2020 / 6:28 PM / 22 days ago

BBVA paid 10 mln euros for services of police chief in alleged spying case - court document

MADRID, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Spain’s BBVA paid 10.3 million euros ($11.40 million) to hire a security firm owned by a former police chief at the centre of an alleged spying case, a document from Spain’s High Court showed on Monday.

The alleged spying case dates back more than 15 years and has roiled Spain’s corporate sector. In July the High Court placed BBVA, the country’s second-largest bank, under formal investigation as part of the case.

News websites El Confidencial and Moncloa.com reported last year that BBVA had hired Grupo Cenyt, led by Jose Manuel Villarejo, to investigate officials of construction company Sacyr as part of efforts to halt its 2004 takeover bid for the bank.

On Monday, Spain’s High Court lifted the secrecy order in the case, releasing some of the details of an investigation that began in December 2018.

The investigating judge said the BBVA had hired Villarejo for services of “illicit character,” amounting to what the court described as a crime of “passive bribery.”

BBVA declined to comment on Monday, instead referring to comments made last Friday by its chairman, Carlos Torres, who denied any personal involvement in the case linked to the bank and added that the bank bore no responsibility.

No members of the current board have been put under investigation regarding the case.

The bank has officially acknowledged that it hired Grupo Cenyt. But BBVA, which is being investigated on offences of bribery, disclosure of secrets and corruption in business and is also conducting its own probe, has said it had not found any evidence of spying.

$1 = 0.9038 euros Reporting By Jesús Aguado; editing by Ashifa Kassam, Kirsten Donovan

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