MILAN, April 5 Italian market watchdog Consob said on Friday it had imposed its second-biggest fine ever for market manipulation in a case involving the former owner of Italy's No. 2 insurer Fondiaria-SAI.
In filings, the regulator said it had fined Salvatore Ligresti and two "trusted" associates a total of 11.3 million euros ($14.52 million) for carrying out operations in the period Nov. 2009 to Sept. 2010 aimed at supporting the price of shares of holding company Premafin.
The sanction included a fine of 5 million euros for Salvatore Ligresti, head of the Italian family that used to control Fondiaria through Premafin.
It was not possible to reach Ligresti for a comment.
Consob's biggest sanction for market manipulation was in 2007 when it fined Ifil, which then controlled Fiat, a total of 16 million euros for failing to inform the market at the right time over a complex equity swap deal.
The Ligresti family was ousted from control of Fondiaria last year after a bitter battle for control with insurance rival Unipol.
Under Ligresti ownership, Fondiaria, which started to report losses in 2009, saw its market value shrink and its solvency margin fall below standard requirements.
Italian regulators, including Consob, came under criticism for their handling of the merger, with many accusing them of lacking teeth and turning a blind eye to the company's problems.
Unipol, which now controls Fondiaria, plans to merge with its peer later this year.
($1 = 0.7780 euros) (Reporting By Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)