FLORENCE, Italy, March 17 The former head of
Monte dei Paschi's finance department, who is at the
centre of an inquiry into alleged fraud and bribery at Italy's
third-largest bank, has been released from jail, his lawyer
Gianluca Baldassarri was the first person to be arrested in
a widening scandal that has rocked the word's oldest bank.
On Saturday, a judge in Siena accepted a request from his
lawyers to have the former executive released as a result of a
procedural error related to his arrest on Feb. 14.
Prosecutors appealed against the judge's decision.
State prosecutors are investigating Monte dei Paschi's
costly acquisition of smaller rival Antonveneta from Santander
in 2007 as well as a series of loss-making derivative and
structured finance trades dating back to 2006-09.
They accuse Baldassarri, who left Monte dei Paschi in 2012,
of helping to mislead regulators over the true nature of a
secret derivatives contract that was found in a safe by the
bank's new management in October 2012.
That accusation has been extended to the bank's former
Chairman Giuseppe Mussari and its former Director General
Antonio Vigni, who were both under investigation for other
alleged offences in the case.
Italian financial police on March 5 searched premises
connected with Monte dei Paschi di Siena as part of a new
investigation into suspected insider trading.
Baldassarri's lawyer, Filippo Dinacci, said his client, who
was questioned by prosecutors on Saturday, had no intention of
leaving the country and will stay in contact with the
authorities as the investigation continues.
(Reporting by Silvia Ognibene; Writing by Antonella Ciancio;
Editing by Daniel Magnowski)