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Spain's prosecutor asks court to put former BBVA chairman 'FG' under investigation

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By Reuters
Spain's prosecutor asks court to put former BBVA chairman 'FG' under investigation
FILE PHOTO: BBVA Chairman Francisco Gonzalez addresses the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders at the Palacio Euskalduna in Bilbao, Spain March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent West   -   Copyright  VINCENT WEST(Reuters)

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s anti-corruption public prosecutor asked the High Court on Wednesday to put the former chairman of BBVA <BBVA.MC>, Francisco Gonzalez, under investigation as part of a probe into an alleged spying case, two judicial sources said.

The inquiry is related to contracts with jailed ex-police chief Jose Manuel Villarejo, whom news websites El Confidencial and reported in January the bank had hired to spy on executives of a potential buyer, construction company Sacyr, in 2004 when Gonzalez was BBVA’s executive chairman.

BBVA and the anti-corruption prosecutor declined to comment, while a spokesman for Gonzalez was not available.

Spain’s second biggest bank is already being investigated by the High Court on charges of bribery, disclosure of secrets and corruption in relation to this case.

BBVA, which has always denied any wrongdoing, is alleged to have hired Villarejo to also spy on leading politicians on behalf of the bank from 2004.

In March, Gonzalez temporarily stepped down as honorary chairman to avoid any harm to the bank’s reputation during the inquiry.

Veteran banker Gonzalez, who is known in Spanish business circles by his initials “FG”, was replaced by Carlos Torres as BBVA’s executive chairman in January.

(Reporting by Jesús Aguado and Jose Elías Rodríguez; additional reporting by Jessica Jones; editing by Angus MacSwan)