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Ex-Lehman Banker Magnoni Is Arrested in Milan Probe

Ruggero Magnoni, a 31-year Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. veteran, was arrested along with his brothers and a nephew in Milan today amid allegations they siphoned funds from a company that went bankrupt.

Magnoni is under house arrest for his role as a de facto director of Sopaf SpA, an Italian merchant bank from which the manager and his siblings took assets valued at more than 100 million euros ($138 million), according to a police official with direct knowledge of the case, who asked not to be identified in line with policy. A lawyer for Magnoni, 63, declined to comment on the arrest.

He is also facing allegations of international criminal association and diverting funds to Luxembourg and the island of Madeira, the official said. One of the transactions being reviewed is a 1 million-euro 2006 financing for a South African company, Newman Lowther & Associates, that converted into the company’s equity in 2011, the official said.

Newman Lowther is a corporate finance and merger adviser that started an exclusive partnership with Nomura Holdings Inc. in 2009, according to Ben Lowther, a co-founder of the company.

“The investment was made to help us develop the business in South Africa,” Lowther said by telephone today.

Neither Newman Lowther nor its executives have been accused of any wrongdoing, the police official said. Officials at Nomura in London declined to comment on the arrest and the partnership with Newman Lowther.

Magnoni joined Nomura from Lehman Brothers when Japan’s biggest brokerage bought the European operations of the U.S. securities firm out of bankruptcy in 2008. At Lehman, Magnoni helped lead Olivetti SpA’s $34 billion hostile acquisition of Telecom Italia SpA in 1999.

Magnoni was employed by Nomura through March 2013, according to the U.K. Financial Services Register.

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