MPS board member probed for insider trading

Investigations widen into wrongdoing at troubled Siena bank

MPS board member probed for insider trading

Siena, May 22 - A board member of the troubled Monte dei Paschi (MPS) bank was suspended Wednesday amidst an investigation into allegations of insider trading. A magistrate in the MPS bank's hometown of Siena ordered the two-month suspension of lawyer Michele Briamonte, who advises a bank which is already dealing with numerous legal problems of its own. According to the indictment, Briamonte leaked sensitive information from confidential board meetings. His suspension order, which can be extended, is only the latest in a long series of investigations and scandals at MPS, the world's oldest bank. It has been mired in massive financial losses and allegations of fraud that broke open in January. Senior officials from MPS are facing penalties totalling as much as five million euros from the Bank of Italy for alleged fraud and corruption. The investigation into Briamonte has been going on for some time. On March 5, authorities raided his home and offices after complaints were made to the chief executive officer of MPS, Fabrizio Viola, authorities said. Phone records and other information link Briamonte with other MPS associates including David Rossi, the former head of communications for MPS who committed suicide on March 6. MPS, Italy's third-largest lender, has been mired in scandal and controversy since it revealed massive losses of more than three billion euros for last year. That required a controversial government bailout worth four billion euros, which new management at the bank has pledged to repay. At the same time, a major fraud probe was revealed in January that is connected with a shady derivatives operations. It has since emerged that a previously undisclosed series of derivative and structured-finance deals produced losses of around 720 million euros.

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