Spain business executives implicated in decade-long spying scandal

Spain’s High Court accepted appeals to reopen formal investigations Monday into Chairman Antonio Brufau and former Chairman Isidro Faine of Spain-based corporations Repsol and Caixabank, respectively.

Judge Manuel Garcia Castellon had dismissed investigations into Brufau, Faine, Repsol and Caixabank in July. Castellon was previously investigating Brufau and Faine for links to bribery in connection with Repsol and Caixabanks’ alleged activities with the security firm. These successful appeals were brought to three different Spanish High Court justices by a prosecutor, a former chairman of an infrastructure development company (Sacyr) and Spain’s left-leaning political party (Podemos).

In January, Ignacio Galan, the chief executive of Iberdrola, a Spain-based multinational electric utility company, appeared before a judge as part of the same spying allegations. The parties have previously denied wrongdoing and agreed to cooperate with the courts.

The former and current executives are under investigation from allegations that in 2011 and 2012 they contracted disgraced former Spain National Police Chief Jose Manuel Villarejo’s security firm for the purpose of spying on former Sacyr Chairman Luis del Rivero. At the time, Repsol was partly owned by Caixabank. The alleged goal of this espionage was to block a takeover bid for Repsol by Sacyr and the Mexican state-owned oil firm, Pemex.

These formal investigations do not necessarily lead to indictment as an investigation is merely the first phase of a Spanish judicial probe.

Spanish authorities have targeted the notorious Villarejo and his business activities for years, as they have allegedly harmed the reputation of Spain’s business sector. Although Villarejo has faced numerous criminal trials in the past for charges ranging from money laundering to bribery and corruption, these investigations are part of a wider inquiry that targets Villarejo and his business dealings. Villarejo’s activities have rocked Spain’s political establishment as they have implicated a number of Spain’s elite, such as former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and King Juan Carlos.