Trial begins into MPS bank scandal
Allegations centre on deceit of banking regulators26 September, 12:21
Former finance head Gianluca Baldassarri listened as the trial began before a panel of three judges headed by Leonardo Grassi, while at the same time lawyers represented his co-accused: former general manager Antonio Vigni and former MPS president Giuseppe Mussari.
Prosecutors say the three defendants deliberately hindered the work of banking supervisors from the Bank of Italy by hiding a contract signed from July 2009 between MPS and Japan's Nomura involving the restructuring of a complicated financial derivative dubbed Alexandria. There are also concerns that central bank supervisors were obstructed in a deal involving an MPS takeover of rival bank Antonveneta in 2008.
It is expected the current trial will be dealt with relatively quickly, as Baldassarri is still being held under house arrest.
This case is only one of several involving MPS, which has been at the centre of criminal probes and scandals that erupted in January and have shaken the foundations of the world's oldest operating bank.
Its woes became public when it became known that a previously undisclosed series of derivative and structured-finance deals produced losses of around 720 million euros.
MPS has also be hit by massive losses besides those related to the derivatives deal, as well as political furore over the previous Italian government's 3.9-billion-euro bailout plan to cover its capital needs.
That could lead to the State taking control of MPS should it default on the loan.
The trial was adjourned after three consumer associations and some savers asked to be made civil plaintiffs in the criminal trial and the next hearing was set for October 3.