Italian court orders seizure of $164 mln from former Fondiaria-SAI owners

MILAN Fri Dec 20, 2013 12:49pm EST

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MILAN Dec 20 (Reuters) - An Italian judge ordered on Friday the seizure of 120 million euros ($164 million) from the former owners and two former managers of insurer Fondiaria-Sai as part of a civil lawsuit brought by the company's new chiefs.

Former Fondiaria owner Salvatore Ligresti, his daughters Giulia and Jonella as well as two former managers were arrested earlier this year as part of a separate criminal investigation into false accounting and market manipulation.

The alleged crimes relate to a 600 million euro hole in the group's claim reserves that was not disclosed to the market, according to investigators.

In a civil lawsuit, the new managers of Fondiaria-SAI, which was taken over this year by peer Unipol, are seeking damages from the Ligrestis and the company's former managers Fausto Marchionni and Antonio Talarico.

They had requested the judge to order the seizure of 440 million euros. A decision on any damages will be made at a later stage.

In his ruling on Friday, the judge said the Ligrestis had managed the company "for their own interest" with the help of the two managers, listing a number of illegal deals that he said had damaged the group.

Unipol rescued Fondiaria, Italy's biggest motor insurer, in a complex takeover deal, effectively ousting the once powerful Ligresti family from the company.

A lawyer for the Ligresti family said they were likely to appeal against the ruling.

($1 = 0.7316 euros) (Reporting by Emilio Parodi, Writing by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Mark Potter)

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