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Ex-Bank of Italy chief cleared of market-rigging charges

Milan appeals court acquits Antonio Fazio

06 December, 17:27
Ex-Bank of Italy chief cleared of market-rigging charges (ANSA) - Milan, December 6 - An appeals court in Milan on Friday cleared former bank of Italy chief Antonio Fazio and another 12 people of market-rigging charges in a case involving insurer Unipol's 2005 attempt to buy Italian bank Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL). The appeals court found the defendants not guilty of the charges.

Fazio was first sentenced to three and a half years in prison in 2011 for his alleged role in the 2005 bank takeover bid. The ex-central bank chief was found guilty of market-rigging in connection with insurer Unipol's failed attempt to gain control of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), which had been set to be sold to Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) and was taken over by the French bank BNP Paribas in 2006.

Twelve others were on trial along with Fazio.

A court of first instance in 2011 had sentenced former Unipol chairman Giovanni Consorte to three years, 10 months and a 1.3-million-euro fine, while the insurer's ex-deputy chairman Ivano Sacchetti and then chief financial officer Carlo Cimbrihad each received sentences of three years seven months and fines of one million euros each. According to the prosecution, Fazio had acted above the law in his attempt to derail the foreign bids. By the end of 2005 Fazio was forced to resign from the post he had held since 1993 and he was replaced by Mario Draghi, who now heads the European Central Bank. The appeals court on Friday also annulled monetary sanctions against Unipol worth 720,000 euros and first-degree sentences of over three years and fines in the neighborhood of one million euros to other key players in the BNL operation including real estate dealers Danilo Coppola, Stefano Riucci and Giuseppe Statuto, businessman Emilio Gnutti, banker Bruno Leoni and publisher and construction baron Gaetano Caltagirone and brothers Ettore and Tiberio Lonati. Former European MP Vito Bonsignore was also acquitted.