LONDON/ZURICH Italian police have raided two properties and launched a fraud probe into ex-hedge fund manager Alberto Micalizzi, a researcher at Italy's Bocconi University, who ran hedge fund DD Growth Premium until its collapse during the credit crisis.
Milan public prosecutor Alfredo Robledo told Reuters that finance police on Tuesday took away documents and computers from the home and office of Micalizzi.
"We found some very significant materials," said Robledo, who is leading the investigation along with fellow public prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano.
The raids come after Britain's Serious Fraud Office last year dropped a criminal investigation into Micalizzi's London-based fund firm Dynamic Decisions Capital Management due to a lack of evidence.
In a statement on Wednesday Micalizzi said that reports in the Italian press regarding Dynamic Decisions investments referred to last year's Serious Fraud Office investigations.
"What's more, further investigations carried out in the last three years by other authorities in the United Kingdom... ended up excluding the hypothesis of fraud and clearing up doubts on how the company managed facts which today are reported by certain newspapers as new," it said.
Micalizzi is considering possible legal action to safeguard his interests, the statement said.
A Reuters investigation revealed in August 2011 that the bonds at the center of the probe had been issued by a company in a trailer-park suburb of Phoenix, whose head was on the run from U.S. authorities.
Micalizzi's hedge fund was put into liquidation in spring 2009 after suffering hundreds of millions of dollars of losses on options trading in the credit crisis, and then investing in $500 million of highly illiquid bonds that proved impossible to sell on.
The Reuters report also found that the bonds were backed by a global network of shell companies that included a Spanish-based charity whose head was allegedly convicted for fraud.
A spokesman for Milan-based Bocconi University said it had asked Micalizzi on Tuesday to suspend himself following the raid and he had agreed.
"The finance police asked us (for) information and we collaborated," the spokesman said.
Last year a judge in an Irish civil lawsuit between two investors in one of Micalizzi's funds ruled the Italian had knowingly given a false picture to investors and set up "a fraudulent scheme" to persuade one to invest to pay off another.
(Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes in Milan.; Editing by Sinead Cruise and Alexander Smith)