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Ilva Chairman Appeals for Release of Seized Steel Stocks

Bruno Ferrante, chairman of Gruppo Riva SpA’s Ilva unit, asked prosecutors to release steel stocks seized by a court so the company can pay workers and carry out environmental improvements at its plant in southern Italy, according to an e-mailed statement.

Prosecutors in July ordered the seizure of about $2 billion of Ilva assets and demanded the arrest of some executives on suspicion they knowingly neglected environmental controls at the plant in Taranto, contributing to high cancer rates in the area. Milan-based Riva disputes responsibility for health risks in the region.

The standoff has proven to be a headache for the government of Prime Minister Mario Monti, which has been trying to keep the plant operating while responding to the health concerns. Monti’s government passed an emergency decree to keep the plant open, while the Riva family has threatened to close the plant entirely.

Ilva accounts for 30 percent of Italy’s steel production and about 12,000 jobs in a city where unemployment tops 30 percent. Ilva generates 75 percent of the province of Taranto’s gross domestic product, according to the company.

Fabio Riva, a company vice president and son of Ilva owner Emilio Riva, was arrested today in London, news agency Ansa reported. In December, prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant for Fabio Riva, Ansa previously reported.

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