Monte Paschi prosecutors order seizure of 1.8 billion euros at Nomura

Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:05pm EDT
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By Silvia Ognibene and Steve Slater

SIENA/LONDON, Italy (Reuters) - Italian prosecutors said they have ordered the seizure of 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) of assets from Japanese bank Nomura (8604.T: Quote) as part of an investigation into a suspected fraud involving troubled lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI: Quote).

Prosecutors in the city of Siena also said they were investigating Nomura's former top executive in Europe, Sadeq Sayeed, and Raffaele Ricci, managing director in fixed income sales for the EMEA region at the Japanese bank.

The two men are being investigated over allegations of aggravated fraud and usury (overpriced loans), obstructing the work of regulators and making false statements to the market in dealings with Monte dei Paschi di Siena.

Nomura said that none of its assets had been seized in connection with the Monte dei Paschi probe and rejected any suggestion of wrongdoing.

"We will take all appropriate steps to protect our position and will vigorously contest any suggestions of wrongdoing in this matter," the bank said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sayeed, who left Nomura in March 2010, also denied the allegations. "The first I heard of it was in the reports earlier today," he told Reuters. "I have not been approached by anybody. I am trying to analyze it myself."

Ricci did not immediately return calls for comment.

The prosecutors said in a statement that the seizure order concerned 88 million euros of hidden commissions that they say Nomura received and 1.7 billion euros of funds deposited with Nomura by Monte dei Paschi by way of collateral for the so-called Alexandria trade, which is at the center of an investigation into risky derivative deals.   Continued...

The entrance of Monte Dei Paschi bank headquarters is pictured in Siena January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini