MADRID, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Iberdrola Chief
Executive Ignacio Sanchez Galan appeared before Spain's High
Court on Tuesday as part of an investigation into alleged spying
in a case that dates back more than 15 years.
Sanchez Galan, who is being investigated for alleged
bribery, breach of privacy and fraud in commercial documents,
was giving testimony in a hearing behind closed doors.
The court is investigating whether Iberdrola hired former
police chief Jose Manuel Villarejo, who ran intelligence
services company Cenyt, to spy on Real Madrid soccer club
president Florentino Perez when Perez's construction company ACS
was fighting for a seat on Iberdrola's board in 2009.
In Spain, being placed under investigation does not
necessarily lead to indictment and no formal charges can be
brought until the first phase of the investigation is completed.
"We were pleased to have the opportunity to directly address
the investigation this week and we continue to reject any
allegations of wrongdoing in relation to the contracting of
Cenyt. Throughout this investigation Iberdrola has acted with
complete transparency," an Iberdrola spokesperson wrote in an
emailed response to a request for comment.
Iberdrola, Spain's second-biggest company by market
capitalisation, has previously said that Sanchez Galan and three
other executives under investigation have done nothing wrong and
are open to cooperating with judicial authorities.
The company has conducted three internal investigations
without finding evidence of wrongdoing.
Iberdrola has acknowledged reputational damage from its
involvement in the case, which started to echo outside Spain in
December when regulators in the U.S. state of New Mexico
mentioned it in arguments against approval of Iberdrola's bid to
buy local utility PNM Resources through its U.S.
The High Court is also investigating whether Iberdrola hired
Villarejo to repel local opposition to a power plant in southern
Spain and to obtain information about Manuel Pizarro, former
chairman of utility Endesa.
The investigation is part of a wider inquiry, which is
centered on Villarejo's activities and has roiled Spain's
Spanish bank BBVA remains under investigation in
relation to Villarejo's activities while investigations into
Repsol and Caixabank were dropped last year.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo and Isla Binnie
Additional reporting by Nacho Doce
Editing by David Goodman)