The profit equates to earnings of 42 cents per share, up from last year's figure of 28 cents.
The principal factor behind the improvement was asset sales and higher revenues.
In June, the bank sold its 1.8 per cent stake in domestic rival Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, which returned a capital gain of $776 million.
Meanwhile, the bank's continental Europe division returned profit of $3.38 billion – a rise of 45 per cent - while profit at its Latin American unit was up 19 per cent to $1.86 billion.
News of the company's performance comes as it is one of the three members of a Royal Bank of Scotland-led consortium bidding for Dutch bank ABN Amro.
Since the start of the year, Santander's shares have fallen 1.5 per cent, with its involvement in the ABN Amro bid and fears of a slowing in the domestic property market cited as the main contributory factors.