Siena prosecutors probe origin of MPS tax-shield assets

Magistrates suspect 'repeated fraudulent behavior' at bank

Siena prosecutors probe origin of MPS tax-shield assets

Rome, February 7 - Siena prosecutors investigating the origin of some 40 million euros in cash and securities seized Wednesday from banks and trust companies as part of an investigation into possible fraud against the troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) bank said the funds appear to have been acquired through "repeated fraudulent behavior" by an organization of several people at the bank's finance department. The prosecutors said the assets were "proof of the crime committed" as they were obtained through the "illicit operations committed inside the finance department" of MPS. The prosecutors also said that given the assets' value as evidence it was necessary to "safeguard the integrity of the material.". The assets seized by Italy's tax police had been held in various institutions under a "tax shield" arrangement, sources told ANSA Wednesday. 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. The scandal comes amidst a national election campaign and could damage the prospects for the left-leaning Democratic Party, which has longstanding ties to MPS and its lucrative foundation.

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