In 2021, the Mexican economy will have a slow recovery, accompanied by an environment of uncertainty for investment, predicted by Eduardo Osuna Osuna, vice-president, and general manager of BBVA Mexico. In an interview with El Sol de México, before the 84th Banking Convention, the executive considered that economic activity this year will be better than in 2020, when the worst contraction of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since 1932 was experienced, with a drop of 8.5%.

"We believe that the recovery will be slow, coupled with a context of uncertainty for investment (editorial note - investors). It is essential to address the structural lags, improve the investment environment, to favor the prospects after the pandemic and accelerate as much as possible the vaccination of the population, which represents the most urgent and important task of public policies".

The objective should be to prevent more companies from disappearing due to the economic situation, as this would lead to greater job losses and a greater impact on the potential growth rate, as well as slow recovery of the economy. A decision to use monetary policy to leverage the recovery could further stimulate credit and investment to create opportunities for businesses and households to help them cope with the economic adversity caused by the pandemic.

Digitalization has been a strategic pillar of BBVA Mexico to address this pandemic. An example of this is the increase in the number of digital customers, which closed in 2020 with more than 12.1 million customers, 25 percent more than there were at the close of 2019. Regarding mobile customers it reached 11.6 million, representing an increase of 26 percent over December last year.

The financial institution has always been and will continue to be respectful of the role of our authorities and regulators, including all decisions that are taken within the scope of their authority and attributions. Specifically, in the area of competition, it reaffirms its commitment to comply with the law, which is why it will continue to apply its code of conduct and internal policies and will continue to strengthen its competition controls by the best national and international competition practices.

BBVA charged with alleged espionage in Spain

A judge of the Spanish National Court on Monday charged the BBVA banking group as a legal entity for the crimes of bribery, discovery, and disclosure of secrets and corruption in business. The magistrate agreed to the accusation of BBVA at the request of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office within the case investigating the espionage allegedly commissioned by the previous management of the bank to a former Spanish police chief, the former commissioner José Villarejo, confirmed to EFE legal sources.

Villarejo, who was one of the most important police chiefs in Spain, has been in pretrial detention since November 2017, accused of bribery, money laundering, and belonging to a criminal gang for various offenses. The case investigates BBVA's relationship with Cenyt, a Villarejo company that was allegedly responsible for spying on some 15,000 phone calls from politicians, including members of the Spanish government, journalists, bankers, and businessmen, according to the investigation.

The investigation believes that this relationship, whereby BBVA contracted Cenyt's services for five million euros, began in 2004, when Sacyr, a Spanish construction, and infrastructure management group, began a move to take control of the banking group, which was ultimately unsuccessful.

These investigations in the Villarejo case led to the resignation in March of Francisco González as honorary chairman of BBVA after he left the bank in December. The Public Prosecutor's Office requested the bank's indictment last week after analyzing the documentation seized in the records made in November 2017 and that provided by BBVA.

Documents that, in the opinion of the Public Prosecutor's Office, would prove that the "illicit" payments to Cenyt "affected several sensitive areas of the bank and various executives of the entity for a prolonged period" and were produced while Villarejo was still active in the police force.

Several current and former bank officials are under investigation in this secret case, including former delegate counselor Ángel Cano and former security chief Julio Corrochano, who paid a 300,000 euro bail to keep him out of prison.

BBVA is the second-largest Spanish banking group and has an important presence in Latin America, especially in Mexico, where it is the country's largest financial institution through its subsidiary Bancomer, while it is one of the regional leaders in the sector in the southeastern United States. It also has important subsidiaries in Argentina (Banco Francés), Colombia, and Peru, while it has a smaller presence in Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Bolivia.