Market watchdog flags possible manipulation at MPS

Consob adds new query to existing probes

Market watchdog flags possible manipulation at MPS

Rome, February 18 - Italian stock exchange watchdog Consob warned the Siena prosecutor's office of possible grounds for market manipulation at the troubled lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), the newspaper La Repubblica reported on Monday. The move piles a new area of criminal inquiry on a series of probes having to do with the bank's 2008 acquisition of bank rival Banca Antonveneta and operations that followed. "From the examination of documents, elements emerge" making it "appear appropriate to communicate to the prosecutors of Siena" that there may be criminal evidence of "market manipulation," Consob wrote in its letter to the prosecutor's office, according to La Repubblica. Consob drew attention in particular to the "actions carried out by (MPS) officials2 in the "structuring" of an operation to reinforce bank capital for the Antonveneta acquisition, as well as "information2 regarding "regulatory capital and the capital ratios exhibited" in the semester results of June 30, 2008. Consob's report is a response to a request made last December by a Siena prosecutor to make an assessment. Consob reviewed MPS operations from March 28 2008 to January 31, 2013, and noted that in the last year, from January 26, 2012 to January 14, 2013, Consob sent to Siena 14 informational notes with documentation signaling "facts" of "criminal relevance".

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