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Italy Extends Investigation of Fraud Against Monte Paschi

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March 5 (Bloomberg) -- Italy’s finance police searched premises in cities including Milan and Siena as prosecutors extend a probe into an alleged criminal association that defrauded Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA.

The police conducted searches targeting current and former employees of Monte Paschi, according to police officials who asked not to be named because of internal policy. Monte Paschi, Italy’s third-biggest lender, said in a statement that the searches are linked to the probe of the lender’s former management and it considers itself a damaged party.

Last week, prosecutors banned eight individuals from traveling outside the country as part of the same investigation.

The group allegedly defrauded Monte Paschi through dealings that involved a broker, Enigma, that was based in Milan and London, court filings show.

If convicted, members of a criminal association, groups of three or more individuals who conspire to commit more than one crime, would face jail sentences of at least one year for belonging to the group, and longer for any proven crimes.

To contact the reporters on this story: Elisa Martinuzzi in Milan at emartinuzzi@bloomberg.net; Sergio Di Pasquale in Milan at sdipasquale1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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