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Scandal-hit Monte Paschi bank insists no more skeletons in closet

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Italy's troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank insisted there were no more skeletons in its closets on Thursday, a day after admitting that losses linked to risky investments could total 730 million euros ($989 million).

"We have wound up our financial portfolio review. There are no other 'Santorini'," Fabrizio Viola, director general of the world's oldest bank, said in a conference call in reference to one of three derivative trades which have plunged the institution into scandal.

The group announced late Wednesday that an investigation had uncovered accounting "errors" in three derivatives: a 2006 trade with J.P. Morgan nicknamed "Nota Italia", a "Santorini" trade with Deutsche Bank two years later, and one in 2009 with Nomura known as "Alexandria".

The losses, which would weigh on the bank's 2012 results, could total 730 million euros, it said.

The scandal, which broke after reports in the media last month, sparked a probe into former top officials of Italy's third largest bank which also raised questions over the relationship between politicians and financial institutions in the run up to February's 24 and 25 general elections.

Prosecutors launched legal proceedings into the bank ago after media revealed that hundreds of millions of euros were missing from BMPS' accounts after risky investments in complex financial products.

According to local media, BMPS directors tried to conceal the losses.

The investigation also centres on the bank's 2007 acquisition of Antonveneta from Spanish banking group Santander for 10 billion euros, at least 2.0 billion euros more than the small bank's estimated value at the time.

Accusations range from conspiracy to fraud, including the provision of false information and preventing proper oversight by banking authorities.

The media revelations emerged just as Italy's government granted a 3.9 billion euro bailout to BMPS, the world's oldest bank.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130207/scandal-hit-monte-paschi-bank-insists-no-more-skeletons-closet