IFIL-EXOR top brass convicted

Appeals judges give Grande Stevens, Gabetti 16 months

IFIL-EXOR top brass convicted

Turin, February 21 - A Turin appeals court on Tuesday convicted top management at IFIL-EXOR, the financial arm of the Agnelli family, on charges that they sought to mislead the stock market in regard to a 2005 equity swap. IFIL-EXOR Chairman Gianluigi Gabetti and Secretary Franzo Grande Stevens, who had been acquitted at the first trial in 2010, received 16-month jail terms. The pair said they would appeal to Italy's top appeals court, the Cassation Court. The trial was an offshoot of a February 2007 decision by stock market regulator Consob to hand out heavy fines for the alleged undeclared equity swap. The Agnelli family's financial arm IFIL, which was later merged into Exor, was fined 4.5 million euros, Gabetti five million euros and Grande Stevens three million, while Giovanni Agnelli & Co was fined three million euros and one of its officials, Vincenzo Marrone, 500,000 euros. Gabetti, Grande Stevens and Marrone were also barred from holding executive positions at a listed company for a period of respectively six, four and two months. According to Consob, and later prosecutors, IFIL had made false statements in August 2004 when it claimed that it had not studied initiatives to maintain a controlling stake at Fiat of over 30%. The following April, EXOR, at the time the Agnelli family's tourism company, acquired 82.25 million Fiat shares from Merrill Lynch and in September these shares were sold to IFIL. The deal allowed IFIL to maintain an over 30% interest in Fiat even after Fiat's creditor banks converted their loans into company stock. Without the EXOR shares, the Agnelli family's interest in Fiat would have been watered down to some 22% by the capital increase. IFIL was merged into EXOR in a financial restructuring operation carried out by the Agnelli family. photo: Franzo Grande Stevens

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