Bank of Italy Governor Investigated in Banca Spoleto Probe

  • Central bank says not aware of any judicial initiative
  • Probe regards allegations of corruption, fraud, document shows

Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco is under investigation in a probe regarding the 2013 placement of Banca Popolare di Spoleto SpA in special administration, according to a court document obtained by Bloomberg News.

“The Bank of Italy is not aware of any initiative by judicial authorities,” the central bank said by e-mail earlier Tuesday, commenting on an article by newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano which reported that Visco is among those being probed. A spokeswoman for Visco declined to comment further.

Prosecutors in the central Italian town of Spoleto are investigating Visco for alleged corruption, fraud and abuse of office, according to a Sept. 11 court document that lists several people under investigation. The bank’s former special administrators are also being probed, according to the document. Prosecutor Gennaro Iannarone said in an e-mailed response to questions that he’s not allowed to speak to the press on such matters.

In Italy, being placed under investigation doesn’t mean that an individual eventually will be charged with a crime.

Popolare Spoleto was put under special administration in February 2013 by the Finance Ministry following a request by the central bank. The lender was then sold to Banco di Desio e della Brianza SpA. Italy’s Council of State ruled last year that Popolare Spoleto should not have been put under special administration, prompting complaints by some of the lender’s shareholders.

The Bank of Italy cannot comment on recent developments regarding Popolare Spoleto, the central bank said in a second statement late on Tuesday. The central bank provided a summary of the main phases of the lender’s status leading up to special administration, without mentioning Visco.

"If he is under investigation, the Governor should suspend himself until his name is cleared the very same way any employee at the Bank of Italy is required to do in similar circumstances," Luigi Leone, head of the central bank’s main labor union Confsal-Falbi, said in a telephone interview.

Visco met with the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella earlier on Tuesday, the president’s office said in a statement, without providing any further details of the meeting.

Visco, 65, is a member of the European Central Bank Governing Council.

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