Siena reels after Monte dei Paschi scandal suicide

Investigators ask for autopsy of communications chief

Siena reels after Monte dei Paschi scandal suicide

Siena, March 7 - The communications chief of troubled Italian bank Monte Paschi di Siena (MPS) committed suicide late on Wednesday. David Rossi threw himself from a high floor of the bank's headquarters, a restored 14th century fortress, in Siena. Rossi was not being probed in an investigation into alleged fraud at Italy's third-biggest lender, but he was among a number of people to have their homes and offices searched last month. The 51-year-old is said to have left a note to his wife in his office saying "I made a blunder". MPS, the world's oldest bank still doing business, was thrown into crisis in January when it emerged that a shady series of derivative and structured finance deals produced losses of 720 million euros. Siena prosecutors are conducting probes into alleged bribery, corruption, tax evasion and other illicit operations at MPS, which were either related to the bank's nine-billion-euro acquisition of rival Antonveneta in 2008 or the period following the takeover. Besides the Siena investigation, separate MPS probes are underway in Rome and Trani in the southern region of Puglia. Rossi was considered close to MPS's former chairman Giuseppe Mussari, who left the bank last year. Mussari was in charge of MPS when the suspect derivatives deals took place. Mussari resigned as president of Italian banking association ABI after the derivatives scandal exploded. The public prosecutor investigating the apparent suicide Rossi asked for an autopsy to be carried out on the body, reversing an earlier decision Thursday. Initially, the prosecutor, Nicola Marini, said that only an "external inspection" was needed. In a statement released by the bank, MPS said it "asks for silence as a form of respect towards David Rossi". Investigators Thursday found other scraps of paper in his office which appeared to indicate he was attempting to write a letter to his wife to explain his decision.

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