Destinations Magazine

Italy’s Election: Scandal, Fascism and Football

By Stizzard
Italy’s election: Scandal, fascism and football Old Siena bank, new financial scandal

POLITICS is seldom boring for long in Italy. An election that takes place on February 24th and 25th had been mostly focused on an unpopular property tax. But it has become more spicily Italian with the injection of a financial scandal, Silvio Berlusconi’s latest outrage and a football star.The scandal began on January 22nd when Giuseppe Mussari resigned as head of the Italian banking association. When chairman of the world’s oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), he allegedly approved dubious derivatives deals that were hidden from the regulators. What makes this political is that MPS is inseparable in the public mind from the left. Siena is in red Tuscany. Thirteen of the 16 directors of the foundation that is its biggest shareholder are political appointees.The derivatives transactions were apparently meant to offset or hide the impact of the bank’s 2007 acquisition of Banca Antonveneta, which cost 36% more than had been paid for it only a month earlier by Spain’s Banco Santander. Italians are familiar with puzzlingly high purchase costs because they are often a source of kickbacks…

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