Siena, August 16 - The future of troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) bank will likely be decided over the next six months, the mayor of the Tuscan city where the bank is based warned Friday. "The next six months are crucial to save the bank," Bruno Valentini told a news conference held before the historic Palio horse race in the city's iconic Piazza del Campo. The mayor noted that MPS lost 350 million euros in the first half of this year, making the remaining six months of the fiscal year crucial for its future. Although efforts have been made to deal with the crisis at the world's oldest operating bank, it has not yet been enough, particularly given the longstanding stresses in the recession-plagued Italian economy, said Valentini. "Today the bank is still sick because a bank that closes with losses of 350 million euros in the first half, it means that it is still ill and still is not able to defend itself sufficiently from the disease in the Italian economy". The bank has been waiting for European regulators to approve its latest restructuring plan presented in June. It has also been selling assets, cutting branches and trying to return to profitability to avoid defaulting on government bailout funds. Earlier this year, MPS became embroiled in scandal amid massive losses and political furore over the previous Italian government's 3.9-billion-euro bailout plan to cover its capital needs, which also threatens the bank with State control should it default. Investigations into the bank began early this year after it emerged that a previously undisclosed series of derivative and structured-finance deals produced losses of around 720 million euros for MPS. Senior officials from MPS are facing penalties totalling as much as five million euros from the Bank of Italy for alleged fraud and corruption.