Italy court acquits former Monte dei Paschi finance chief in fraud case

A sign of the Monte dei Paschi bank is seen in Rome, Italy September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - An Italian court on Tuesday acquitted Monte dei Paschi di Siena's BMPS.MI former finance chief Gianluca Baldassari and 11 others of charges related to an alleged fraud scheme at the bank.

Baldassarri, who worked at Monte dei Paschi from 2001 to 2012, was accused by prosecutors of running what became known as “the five percent gang”, a group of people who prosecutors in the Tuscan city of Siena said demanded fixed fees for themselves for every financial transactions they managed to push through.

The alleged fraud scheme was part of a wider scandal that rocked the world’s oldest bank in 2013 and eventually led to it being rescued by the Italian state in 2017.

“We are satisfied. Today we can say that the five percent gang never existed,” Baldassarri’s lawyer, Stefano Cipriani, told Reuters by telephone.

Four employees of London-based broker Enigma, which prosecutors had accused of taking part in the alleged fraud scheme, were among those acquitted on Tuesday alongside Baldassarri and seven former Monte dei Paschi staff.

In a separate case, Baldassarri, together with the bank’s former chairman and former director general, are on trial in Milan for alleged false accounting, market manipulation and misleading regulators in relation to two derivative transactions which prosecutors say were used to conceal losses at the bank.

Reporting by Silvia Ognibene, writing by Andrea Mandala; editing by David Evans