Will BBVA’s Code of Conduct Doom Balch & Bingham?

Banking giant BBVA in Madrid, Spain is investigating their wholly-owned U.S.-based subsidiary BBVA Compass‘ relationship with embattled law firm Balch & Bingham and making sure they are not violating BBVA’s Code of Conduct.

We have asked BBVA to suspend or terminate their relationship with Balch immediately.

We wrote and spoke directly to the leadership in Spain in May because the Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of BBVA Compass, Richard Pearson, was a partner at Balch & Bingham for 34 years. In addition, Will Graham, who serves as Senior Vice President and Corporate Counsel at BBVA Compass, was a Balch partner for 10 years.

Now that Balch & Bingham partner Joel I. Gilbert was convicted on all 6 federal criminal charges including bribery and money laundering, we followed-up with another phone call and email.

“Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Archibald of AL.com wrote a column describing testimony and evidence from the criminal trial.  One of the revolting ways this collection of derelicts wanted to suppress poor African-Americans in North Birmingham from having their toxic and contaminated property tested by the EPA was by targeting and using the children of North Birmingham,” we wrote.

We added, “This behavior is immoral, repugnant and unacceptable; and instead of firing Gilbert when he was indicted last September, Balch & Bingham’s leadership kept him on the payroll, paying him handsomely. What will Wall Street say if BBVA continues to engage with a firm whose partner was convicted of money laundering…?

Making sure that BBVA Compass is not violating BBVA’s Code of Conduct by maintaining a relationship with Balch & Bingham, we outlined areas of possible violations.

As Section 3.10.1 of BBVA’s Code of Conduct says:

Avoid situations in which a conflict of interest might influence your professional conduct. A conflict of interest exists when a personal or family relationship or friendship or any other type of outside circumstance might affect your professional objectivity and your duty to act in the best interests of BBVA and of our customers.

Section 3.9.1 says:

BBVA’s suppliers shall be selected through objective and transparent processes, following the Corporate standard for procurement of goods and contracting services; Policy for responsible purchasing.

Section 3.9.2 says:

When choosing suppliers and monitoring the services they provide, bear in mind that their conduct towards BBVA, its employees and third parties must be consistent with the standards and principles of this Code.

Section 4.4.1 says:

Respect for the dignity of the individual and fundamental human rights constitutes a core element of BBVA’s conduct.

Section 4.5.1 says:

Protection of the environment, sustainability and the aspiration to “eco-efficiency” are priorities for BBVA….