Bank of Italy seeks more powers in wake of Monte Paschi troubles

Sat Feb 9, 2013 1:10pm EST
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By Francesca Landini

BERGAMO, Italy (Reuters) - Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco called on Saturday for more powers for bank regulators to step in and dismiss bad managers but defended his institution's oversight of the troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI: Quote).

Responding to criticism about banking oversight in the case of the Tuscan lender, Visco repeated that central bank supervisors had acted appropriately but asked for more scope to act in exceptional cases.

"The supervisor should have the power to intervene when - based on solid evidence - it believes it is necessary to oppose the appointment of (bank) executives or to remove them," Visco, who also sits on the European Central Bank governing council, said in a speech to the Assiom-Forex conference in Bergamo.

The comments echoed remarks from ECB President Mario Draghi, who also called for regulators to be able to force out top executives in cases where a bank had run into trouble through the fault of its management.

Monte dei Paschi, Italy's third largest bank, has been at the center of a financial and political storm over a series of problematic derivatives contracts which has widened into a probe by magistrates into suspected bribery and false accounting.

The Bank of Italy has defended its handling of the scandal, which emerged in the wake of Monte dei Paschi's 9-billion-euro ($12.04 billion) acquisition of smaller rival Antonveneta just before the global financial crisis erupted in 2008.

It has already launched disciplinary proceedings against former management of the bank and could impose fines by next month, Bank of Italy director general Fabrizio Saccomanni told reporters.

Monte dei Paschi's former chief executive Antonio Vigni, who was questioned by magistrates this week, was forced to resign in January 2012 after pressure from the Bank of Italy and former Chairman Giuseppe Mussari stepped down in April 2012.   Continued...