* Bank spokesman found dead late on Wednesday
* Body found beneath open window of bank headquarters
* Prosecutors said investigating possible suicide
By Silvia Ognibene
SIENA, Italy, March 7 Prosecutors began
investigating the apparent suicide of the spokesman of Monte
Paschi di Siena, the Italian bank subject to a
corruption probe, and a judicial source said an autopsy would be
done to dispel any doubt about how he died.
David Rossi, head of communications at the bank, was found
dead late on Wednesday. His body was lying beneath the open
window of his third floor office in the bank's headquarters, an
eyewitness and the source told Reuters.
The source said police were not aware at this stage of any
threat against him and another source with direct knowledge of
the investigation said messages had been found that looked like
The bank itself paid tribute to Rossi, saying he had carried
out his duties with "absolute ability and dedication in a
particularly difficult period" but asked for a period of silence
out of respect for his family.
"The death of David Rossi is a terrible tragedy," it said in
The unexplained death adds a further layer to a politically
sensitive scandal, the most complex seen in Italy since the
Parmalat accounting scandal a decade ago.
Monte dei Paschi, Italy's third-largest bank, is at the
centre of an investigation into alleged corruption and fraud
over the costly 2008 acquisition of Antonveneta bank and risky
Police have sealed off Rossi's office in a restored 14th
century fortress in the Tuscan city of Siena but it is unclear
what, if any, impact his death will have on either the main
investigation or on an insider trading probe opened on Tuesday.
The new probe was triggered by leaks to the media about a
Monte dei Paschi board meeting last week, at which it decided to
seek damages from two former executives and investment banks
Nomura and Deutsche Bank over derivatives
losses, police said.
Rossi was one of the closest aides of one of those
executives, former chairman Giuseppe Mussari, who was already
under investigation in the Antonveneta case.
Rossi was not under investigation himself but his home and
offices had been searched by police.
Officials originally planned not to conduct an autopsy
because the cause of death appeared obvious but changed their
minds at the insistence of the family "to dispel any possible
doubt", a judicial source with close knowledge of the case said.
"I HAVE DONE A STUPID THING"
A reserved, usually well-dressed man known by colleagues and
journalists for his sharp and sometimes sarcastic manner, Rossi
had seemed concerned and stressed in the past few days and could
not understand why his house and office had been searched, one
"What have I done? Why have they come to me?," the friend
quoted him as saying.
"Compared with his usual manner, he had been very worn down
and quiet recently," said another person who had seen him in the
past few days.
Officials said the manner of his death suggested suicide
although there was no official confirmation pending the autopsy
and the results of the investigation.
One source with direct knowledge of the case said a crumpled
scrap of paper was found in a waste basket in his office
reading: "I have done a stupid thing".
Investigators also found some scribbled messages that
appeared to be attempts by Rossi to write a farewell letter to
his wife, the source told Reuters. They were seeking to identify
the handwriting on the scrap of paper and the messages.
Rossi, whose father had recently died, had worked for more
than a decade for Mussari, but he had been confirmed in his job
even after his patron left the bank last year.
He was spokesman of Monte dei Paschi's foundation, the
bank's biggest shareholder, from 2001 to 2006 and when Mussari,
the foundation's chairman, moved to head the bank in 2006, Rossi
went with him.
Mussari, former head of the Italian banking association, has
been questioned by magistrates over allegations of misleading
regulators, market manipulation and false information in the
prospectus of the Antonveneta deal.
The scandal triggered a political storm before last month's
Italian parliamentary election because the bank has close ties
to the centre-left Democratic Party, which won control of the
lower house but failed to win the Senate.