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CRIME

Bankers acquitted in Italy over derivatives scandal

An Italian appeals court on Friday acquitted 13 former top officials from Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS), Deutsche Bank, and Nomura over a long-running derivatives scandal.

The logo of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank is seen on the window of a branch in downtown Rome.
The logo of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank is seen on the window of a branch in downtown Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
“Justice has been served. I’ve always believed in my clients’ innocence,” Giuseppe Iannaccone, lawyer for the Deutsche defendants, told AFP.
 
The Milan court overturned the 2019 convictions for allegedly helping Monte dei Paschi, the oldest bank in the world, hide hundreds of millions of euros in losses between 2008 and 2012, finding no crime had been committed.
 
 
The scandal, concerning false accounting, share manipulation, and obstructing regulators from Consob, Italy’s stock exchange watchdog, rocked BMPS, which has long been deemed a weak link in Italy’s banking system.
 
 
Prosecutors claimed derivatives trades called Santorini and Alexandria were used, in collusion with Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Japan’s Nomura, to hide losses equivalent to two billion euros ($2.2 billion).
 
The bankers, including former BMPS chairman Giuseppe Mussari and ex-chief executive Antonio Vigni, six former employees of Deutsche Bank and two of Nomura, were sentenced to up to seven years jail in the original trial.
 
The Milan court on Friday also ordered the release of about 150 million euros in seized assets from Deutsche Bank and Nomura, according to Italy’s Sole 24 Ore financial daily.
 
 
Deutsche Bank said it welcomed the verdict, while Nomura told AFP it was “pleased”.
 
Founded in Siena in 1472, BMPS has been in deep trouble since the eurozone debt crisis and is now majority-owned by the Italian state following a 2017 bailout.
 
Earlier Friday it reported a first quarter profit of 9.7 million euros, down 92 percent from the same period in 2021.

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ROME

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.

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