Former Bank of Italy Governor Sentenced for Failed BNL Takeover

Former Bank of Italy Governor Antonio Fazio and ex-Unipol Gruppo Finanziario SpA Chairman Giovanni Consorte were sentenced to more than three years in jail for their involvement in a failed takeover of lender Banca Nazionale del Lavoro SpA.

Fazio was sentenced to three years and six months by a Milan court today, while Consorte was sentenced to three years and 10 months, lawyers for the two said in telephone interviews.

“We are disappointed about the verdict, which we consider unfair,” said Franco Coppi, a member of Fazio’s defense team. Consorte’s lawyer, Filippo Sgubbi, said he was “bitterly surprised” and would appeal.

Prosecutors said Fazio acted improperly in helping Bologna-based Unipol, Italy’s third-biggest insurer, gather stock in its $6.1 billion bid for BNL. The Bank of Italy in 2006 blocked the bid amid a probe of the acquisition. That same year BNL was taken over by French lender BNP Paribas SA.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, a Spanish lender and a rival bidder, was awarded 15 million euros ($21 million) in damages, newswire Ansa reported, citing the court. Unipol was given a 720,000-euro fine, Ansa said. Unipol didn’t respond to three phone calls from Bloomberg News seeking comment.

Deutsche Bank AG managers, who had also been investigated, were cleared by the court. “No market manipulation was found,” the German bank said today in an e-mailed statement.