Italy: Police Seize $54M (€40M) from the Oldest Bank in the World

The Monte dei Paschi di Sienna bank is being investigated for several shady dealings

Police have seized €40 million ($54 million) from the oldest financial institution in the world. Officials at the Italian Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank are being investigated for fraud, reports say.

According to Euronews, the probe is set to shed light on the bank's dealings from last year. After registering €720 million ($972 million) in loss, Monte dei Paschi needed a government bailout.

Examiner notes that the purchase of the Italian Antonveneta bank is being analyzed and checked. It has been acquired from the Spanish Santander trust in 2007. Monte dei Paschi allegedly overpaid when they dished out €9.3 billion ($12.6 billion) for the institution.

In a statement made on January 25 to CNBC, Italy's Central Bank Governor Ignazio Visco blamed Monte dei Paschi's management for failing to disclose information on possible shady transactions.

“The true nature of some of the transactions involving Monte dei Paschi di Siena emerged only recently, following the discovery of documents kept hidden from the supervisory authority and brought to light by the new management of MPS,” Visco explained.

The Tuscany-based bank has been associated with left-wing politics in Italy, openly supporting the Democratic Party (PD). The center-left opposition party is being attacked in the press by center-right former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, over its collaboration with the institution.

“We are risking a banking crisis of confidence over Monte Paschi,” says Roberto Maroni in a press release. Maroni heads the Northern League and is a known Berlusconi associate.

The biggest shareholder at the bank is a non-profit foundation commanded by the Democratic Party. Maroni argues that the party is directly involved in its transactions.

“The bank is controlled by the foundation, which is controlled by the PD. It would be in the PD’s interest to clarify everything,” he adds.

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