Tokyo

'Low chance' of Nomura seizure says CFO

Money linked to MPS case in a German bank

'Low chance' of Nomura seizure says CFO

Tokyo, April 26 - Japanese investment bank Nomura on Tuesday said Friday there was a "low chance" Italian police would seize some 1.8 billion euros of its assets as part of ongoing probes into a scandal surrounding Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), Italy's oldest lender. "Our lawyers say the chances (of seizure) are low," said Chief Financial Officer Shigesuke Kashiwagi. He said the money was in a German bank. On April Italian prosecutors ordered the seizure and said they had put Nomura's former chief executive in Europe, the Middle East and Africa under investigation in the MPS case. Nomura was involved in one of a series of suspect derivative and structured-finance deals that left a hole of around 720 million euros in the balance sheet of Italy's third-biggest lender. Prosecutors said Sadeq Sayeed, the former head of Nomura International plc, was being probed along with another manager from the Japanese investment bank, Raffaele Ricci. The prosecutors said the Nomura seizure regarded 88 million euros of hidden commissions received by Nomura and 1.7 billion euros of funds deposited with Nomura by MPS by way of collateral for a loan. They stressed that the individuals were under investigation but the Japanese bank as an institution was not. Judicial sources said that the validity of the so-called Alexandria derivatives contract MPS has with Nomura has been suspended. Around 14 million euros belonging to former MPS chairman Giuseppe Mussari, former general manager Antonio Vigni and former finance chief Gianluca Baldassarri were also seized. Sayeed, Ricci, Mussari, Vigni and Baldassarri are being probed for crimes including usury, aggravated fraud, obstructing banking watchdogs and issuing false statements. Mussari last year resigned from MPS and stepped down from his subsequent post as chairman of the banking association ABI after the scandal exploded in January. Baldassarri is under house arrest. Police and prosecutors investigating the MPS scandal also visited the offices of the Bank of Italy for "activities linked to the investigation". Bank of Italy officials are not implicated in the probe but are cooperating with investigators. There are also suspicions senior MPS managers were involved in alleged corruption in the nine-billion-euro acquisition of rival bank Antonveneta, at least two billion above its market value, in 2008. David Rossi, MPS's communications chief, committed suicide last month by throwing himself out of a window at the bank's headquarters in Tuscany. He was not being probed. MPS, which is the world's oldest bank still doing business, revealed losses of more than three billion euros last year. Before the derivatives scandal broke, the Italian government had approved a 3.9-billion-euro bailout loan to the troubled bank, which may be converted into equity if the bank cannot make its payments to the State.

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