Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
ROME

Rome prosecutors open probe into MPS financial scandal

English
© ANSA

Rome, January 31 - Rome prosecutors said Thursday
that they have opened a probe into the financial scandal at
troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS).
The prosecutors said they are looking into possible market
manipulation.
MPS was thrown in crisis last week when it emerged that a
shady series of derivative and structured finance deals produced
losses of 720 million euros.
Magistrates in Siena are also investigating the case and
prosecutors in the southern city of Trani have launched a probe
into whether the Bank of Italy and stock-market regulator Consob
failed to conduct proper oversight.
The former head of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti
Tedeschi, was questioned on Thursday by prosecutors
investigating suspect operations at MPS.
The prosecutors wanted to talk to Gotti Tedeschi about
MPS's nine-billion-euro acquisition of Antonveneta in 2008 from
Spanish bank Santander.
Gotti Tedeschi was in charge of Santander's operations in
Italy before becoming president of the Vatican Bank, the
Institute for Religious Works (IOR), in 2009.
The IOR's board ousted him from that post last year.
The Lazio Regional Administrative Court (TAR) said on
Thursday that it had called senior Bank of Italy officials to
report on the situation MPS.
The TAR said it had summoned Bank of Italy
Director-General Fabrizio Saccomanni and the central bank's head
of supervision, Luigi Signorini, to appear on Saturday.
It said it wanted the officials, or their representatives,
to provide "documents of clarification" about controversial
plans to give the troubled bank a loan of 3.9 billion euros of
public money.
The court move comes after a petition by consumers'
association Codacons.
On Wednesday prosecutors in the southern city of Trani
opened an investigation into the supervisory actions of both the
Bank of Italy and market watchdog Consob regarding MPS.
Italian prosecutors denied media reports that their probe
into alleged fraud at MPS was escalating to include more serious
potential charges.
Prosecutors said in a statement that the reports were
"unfounded", stressing that they were "considering the opening
of criminal procedures for insider trading and market rigging".
Some newspapers and TV networks said the prosecutors were
looking into possible allegations of criminal association, an
extremely serious charge.
There have also been reports of bribery and corruption by
bank officials regarding, among other things, the costly
nine-billion-euro acquisition of rival Antonveneta in 2008.
Former chairman Giuseppe Mussari quit as the head of
Italian banking association ABI soon after the scandal broke.
He is said to have personally authorised at least one of
the derivative operations at the centre of the furore.
He denies any wrongdoing.
The executive of Italian banking association ABI appointed
Antonio Patuelli as its new president on Thursday after Giuseppe
Mussari reigned as chief.
The MPS scandal has rocked the Italian financial system as
Italy's banks were thought to have avoided the type of risky
operations that put lenders in the United States and Britain in
difficulty in recent years.
But Patuelli, who is also the president of the Cassa di
Risparmio di Ravenna bank group, stressed that in Italy
"obligations must prevail, distant from the models of the most
risky capitalism of the other side of the ocean".
Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli has said that there was
no evidence other Italian banks were in the same plight as MPS.
"We believe in, and work for, healthy prudent management
of banks, which are the most complex of companies, with rigour
and the precision of the physical and mathematical sciences,"
Patuelli said.
The new ABI chief also said he believed banks should be
"absolutely independent, distant and distinct from the political
world and from any risk of interference and conflict of
interest".
This is significant as the MPS scandal has become an
election issue because local authorities run by the main
centre-left Democratic Party have a big presence in the
foundation that controls the Tuscan bank.
Outgoing Italian Premier Mario Monti said Thursday that
banks and the political world should be kept separate.
The Democratic Party, which is leading the centre-left
coalition that is favourite to win next month's election, has a
big presence in the foundation that controls the Tuscan bank.
"Let's keep the parties far from the banks," said Monti,
who is running for office on a reform ticket backed by centrist
parties.
Monti has been also criticised in the affair by
centre-right politicians after his emergency technocrat
government authorised a 3.9 billion aid package for MPS.
Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani said that
he was in "absolute agreement" with Monti's comment on Thursday
that political parties should steer away from involvement with
banks.
"Parties out of the banks? I agree tenfold. And I would
add that bankers should get out of the parties," Bersani said,
making a reference to Monti's connection to the world of banking
and finance.
Monti formerly consulted for Goldman Sachs global
investment bank.
Last Friday Bersani expressed irritation at Monti's latest
jab at the PD, which has a big presence in the foundation that
controls the troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) bank.
Monti said Friday that political involvement in banks had
to be "rooted out", calling it "an ugly beast".
"The PD is involved (in the MPS case), it has always had a
lot of influence on the bank and on Siena's political life,"
Monti said.

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