Former Popolare di Bari leaders under house arrest in investigation into bank collapse
MILAN, Jan.31 (Reuters) – Police in Bari, southern Italy, have placed three former senior executives at regional lender Popolare di Bari under house arrest as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of false accounting , according to a police statement and a document seen by Reuters.
Popolare di Bari, Italy’s largest bank in disadvantaged south, is set to be rescued by the government and sound lenders after temporary administrators exposed a preliminary capital shortfall of € 1.4 billion (1.6 billion billion dollars).
Bari prosecutors are looking into the causes of the lender’s collapse.
Popolare di Bari was placed under special administration by the Bank of Italy in December, weakened by mismanagement, the acquisition of a struggling rival and a deep recession from which the local economy could not recover.
The court document said the bank had falsely represented its accounts for several years by failing to recognize goodwill impairment charges, notably on Banca Tercas, which Popolare di Bari agreed to take over in 2014. He also mentioned alleged charges obstruction of regulators.
Among the three executives under house arrest are former bank chairman Marco Jacobini and his son Gianluca, former managing director of Popolare di Bari.
A lawyer for Marco Jacobini was not immediately available for comment and Reuters was unable to immediately identify Gianluca’s legal representatives.
Former CEO Vincenzo De Bustis, who left Popolare di Bari in 2014 but returned to the helm in 2018, has been banned from holding managerial positions in banking groups or other companies, but has not been placed under house arrest, according to the document.
Reuters was unable to contact De Bustis.
The Jacobini family has held the reins of the bank since it was founded in 1960 by a group of local businessmen led by Marco’s father, Luigi Jacobini.
Police said magistrates ordered searches of the homes and offices of the four executives under investigation and six other bank officials.
The Popolare di Bari bailout is the latest in a series of banking crises that have cost the state and other Italian lenders more than € 20 billion since 2015. ($ 1 = € 0.9014) ( Reporting by Domenico Lusi, written by Maria Pia Quaglia; editing by Kirsten Donovan)