Sánchez Galán: “My board of directors is tired after three years of investigation”

The president of Iberdrola, Ignacio Sánchez Galán, acknowledged this Thursday that the Villarejo case It generates concern among the energy leadership. Even more so after the decision this past Wednesday of the investigating judge of the National Court Manuel García-Castellón to include Galán and three of his directors (Fernando Becker, Francisco Martínez Córcoles and Rafael Orbegozo) in the investigation for the alleged espionage orders for part of the company to retired curator José Manuel Villarejo. “We have been hearing the news for three years from the media. The board of directors is already a little tired of the issue, half are foreigners, ”said the businessman during his speech at the 2022 Trends Forum, organized by EL PAÍS. “Half [de la cúpula] we are from this land and others from Anglo-Saxon or Brazilian countries ”, he said.

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“I cannot say that it is a pleasant situation. It is not, ”stressed the Iberdrola executive, to whom the magistrate attributes alleged crimes of bribery, against privacy and documentary falsification. “We have tried to appear without success,” said Sánchez Galán, reiterating his willingness to testify in the investigation to be able to defend his version. “A month ago, [los miembros del consejo] They said: ‘Gentlemen, we are going to tell the judge that we want to go tell him our truth and our things; we do not have any reliable information about the file [de la investigación]”, He pointed out, referring to the statement sent by the energy company to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), where it reported that it had sent a letter to the magistrate to make itself available to him.

At that time, Galán was on the verge of being charged and wanted to get ahead of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, which had not yet asked him to testify. But the judge turned a deaf ear to his initiative and it was not until this Tuesday, when he already had the request of the public prosecutor on the table, when he signed the car to call him as investigated. This Thursday, the highest representative of Iberdrola addressed García-Castellón directly: “Investigate whatever you want, but at least let me tell you our version; [estaría] delighted to go tell what they have not let us tell until now ”. Along the same lines, company sources have already defined these citations as an “opportunity”.

Iberdrola, which has been targeting the National High Court for months, tries to minimize damage. In a statement sent to its employees this Thursday, to which EL PAÍS has had access, the company assures its workers that, from the internal investigation they have carried out and the part of the instruction that they know from the media, “There has not been the slightest indication of the intervention in the events” of Galán and the other three directors to whom the judge imputed this Wednesday. As it defends in that letter, where the responsibility for any possible irregularity is limited to the Corporate Security and Administration and Control divisions, there is nothing that links the hiring of Villarejo with members of the company outside these areas.

However, the judge does not see it the same. Throughout his 23-page order, García-Castellón details that they have found in Iberdrola’s accounting records up to 15 invoices without an order, issued and paid for a total of 1.04 million euros to the Cenyt group, Villarejo’s corporate plot ; in addition to another 407,740 euros allegedly paid through a third company (Castellana de Seguridad SA). In addition, the judge adds, it has been found that the concepts reflected in these documents are “manipulated” to hide the true purpose of the work; that there is an internal report prepared by a manager in 2004 where he warned of irregularities; that the relationship with Cenyt lasted from 2004 to 2017; and that audios of conversations between Iberdrola’s head of Security and the plot involving Sánchez Galán have been found.

“The accusation is based on an alleged report drawn up in December 2004 by a former Iberdrola employee (José Antonio del Olmo), which was published by the digital medium The confidential 15 years later. Regarding said report, Iberdrola presented a false complaint that was admitted by the Investigative Court 3 of Bilbao and which is processed in the Central Investigation Court 6 [de la Audiencia Nacional], before which José Antonio del Olmo declared that he never handed over the document to his bosses at Iberdrola ”, he simplifies the energy company in the internal statement sent to his employees, where he adds:“ There are currently 21 companies involved in the case: Cenyt, Repsol, Caixa, BBVA and Iberdrola, among others ”.

The council, with the president

Regarding whether the judicial situation of the chairman of Iberdrola may affect his position in the company, the board of directors is empowered to request the resignation of one of its members when the indictment is issued, the phase prior to the opening of the trial. oral, according to company sources. At that time, the directors have the duty to report to the board and make the position available. According to company regulations, directors must also report “judicial, administrative or any other kind of proceedings that are initiated against them and that, due to their importance or characteristics, could seriously affect the reputation of the Company.” reports Miguel Ángel Noceda.

According to sources from around the company, this is not the case in which its president is, since the current process is the investigation process – not the oral trial – and Sánchez Galán is cited as being investigated. The board would also have to consider whether the crimes it is accused of affect the reputation of the company. According to the sources consulted, in this case the council has closed ranks in favor of Sánchez Galán, considering that this is not the case because the internal regulations refer to serious and flagrant crimes, such as a direct accusation of murder, while that he Villarejo case It is much more complex and deals with Iberdrola’s relationship with Cenyt. The regulation also says that it must be reported, through the secretary of the Board of Directors, in the case of being “called as investigated, he is prosecuted or an order to open an oral trial is issued against him in a criminal case for any crime and of the occurrence of any other relevant procedural milestones in said cases ”.

In any case, the company’s environment is waiting for the reaction of the main shareholders. The sources consulted are not aware that, at the moment, there has been any reaction. Iberdrola’s main shareholder is Qatar Authority Investment, with 8.71%. The Blackrock funds, with 5.16%, and the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund Norges Bank, with 3.60%, are the other significant investors.

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