Italian banker Profumo acquitted in tax fraud case: sources

Monte dei Paschi bank chairman Alessandro Profumo talks during a Reuters interview in Siena June 27, 2012. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

ROME (Reuters) - Italian banker Alessandro Profumo and 19 other bank managers have been acquitted in a 245 million euro ($267 million) tax fraud case at lender UniCredit, judicial sources said.

The case centered on suspected tax fraud in 2007 and 2008 resulting from a complex financial scheme, known as Project Brontos, set up by Barclays and benefiting UniCredit.

Profumo, head of UniCredit at the time of the alleged wrongdoing and now chairman of Monte dei Paschi, was acquitted, along with 16 managers from UniCredit and three from Barclays, because there was no case to answer, the sources said.

UniCredit was satisfied with the ruling, saying that in the Brontos affair it had always fiercely defended the correctness of its actions and those of its employees.

The Project Brontos financial scheme is a ‘Profit participation instrument’ (PPI).

Prosecutors had argued that the PPI allowed UniCredit to depict part of its income as dividends, and so benefit from a more favorable tax rate.

Reporting by Mario Sarzanini, Writing by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Valentina Consiglio and Kevin Liffey