Arrest of former MPS finance chief confirmed

'Baldassarri suspected of fraud, obstructing banking watchdogs'

Arrest of former MPS finance chief confirmed

(ANSA) – Siena, March 8 – Italian prosecutor Ugo Bellini confirmed the arrest of Gianluca Baldassarri, the former head of Monte dei Paschi's finance department who was detained last month by law enforcement officials as part of an investigation into alleged fraud and bribery at Italy's third largest bank. Baldassarri, who was detained in the Milan jail of San Vittore until Friday, is currently being transferred to the Florence-based Sollicciano detention centre. 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. Baldassari himself is in fact reportedly under investigation for market manipulation, fraud, obstructing banking watchdogs, issuing false statements and possible collusion in obstruction of proper oversight together with MPS's former chairman Giuseppe Mussari. Earlier this week David Rossi, the MPS communications chief, committed suicide by jumping off a high floor of the bank's headquarters, a restored 14th-century fortress, in Siena. Rossi was not being probed, but he was among a number of people to have their homes and offices searched last month. Rossi was considered close to MPS's former chairman Mussari, who left the bank last year.

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