Italian banking association appoints Mussari's replacement

Former chief stepped down following MPS scandal

Italian banking association appoints Mussari's replacement

(see related stories) Rome, January 31 - The executive of Italian banking association ABI appointed Antonio Patuelli as its new president on Thursday after Giuseppe Mussari reigned as chief following a financial scandal at his troubled former bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS). Mussari stepped down last week after it emerged that shady derivatives operations conducted before he left the helm of the bank last year had led to losses of hundreds of millions of euros. 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 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.

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