Among the many revelations that former Spanish police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo has uncovered directly or indirectly in the dirty work he has done for decades, at times working in what are referred to as the sewers of the state and at others in private security networks, the latest - while we still wait for the coup de grace that he has announced against the Spanish royal family itself - is that the huge bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria under the leadership of Francisco González bugged no less than 15,000 calls made over ten years with members of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's Spanish government, with businessmen, journalists and financiers. The story has made hairs stand on end at the European Central Bank due to the mafia-like methods used and has also apparently induced shock in the current hierarchy of the BBVA - which absorbed the brand and business of Catalan savings bank Catalunya Caixa - and which does not rule out taking González to court. It is a decision that will be difficult to avoid if a minimally credible firebreak is to be placed between the bank and the scandal.
I imagine, however, that it will depend on how big the scandal becomes, as Francisco González is known in the banking sector as José María Aznar's banker, having been designated for the role by the then-Spanish prime minister in 2000 in a surprise move when he presided over Argentaria, the smallest brand of the merger that gave rise to BBVA. Coincidentally, this news arises a few weeks after he resigned from the presidency of the bank and took refuge in a symbolic honorary presidency and leadership of the bank's foundation, allowing him to maintain some of the privileges he has had for the last 18 years.
To date he has resigned from neither of these two positions, a fact that stands out like a sore thumb. It is also not clear that the ECB, beyond its annoyance, has sent him any clear and instructive message. It's probably just a matter of days or of new journalistic revelations. Hurricane Villarejo devastates wherever it passes, as we saw in the case of Pedro Sánchez's government, when justice minister Dolores Delgado was left on the verge of resignation when voice recordings were published in which she and the former commissioner spoke of the presence of judges and prosecutors in compromising situations with minors at an official judicial summit at Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia.
González's case is especially serious due to the use of huge amounts of money from the BBVA financial institution - more than five million euros, at least. Former commissioner Villarejo, currently in jail, has continued to threaten to publish more recordings from his inexhaustible audio and video library if he is not released. So far, he hasn't got what he wanted and he has kept on raising the stakes. So much so, that different media and television broadcasters have stated that they are in possession of a damaging recording that directly affects Spain's queen Leticia. Before Christmas, the Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez even informed numerous media chiefs of his enormous concern if these details were revealed to them, and asked them not to follow up on them.
Whether or not that moment arrives, Villarejo has destroyed the reputation of Francisco González.