The Report’s investigation into the irregularities that some banks allegedly made in suggesting the purchase of diamonds to customers “is not only incomplete. It is erroneous and misleading, also because it is based on registrations made without the knowledge of the interested parties, cut so as to obscure the context and overturning its meaning. There were then absolutely fanciful and offensive inferences “. This is the comment of the governor of the Bank of Italy, Ignazio Visco, interviewed by La Stampa.
The governor refers to the December episode of the Report (Rai 3) program dedicated to the sale of diamonds through bank branches, which brought 105 people and 5 companies to the dock in the maxi-trial in Milan, which started last October. The story of investment stones sold by some banks at inflated prices, which later became a criminal investigation with an estimate of approximately 1.4 billion in transacted value, is now ten years old, having started in 2012.
According to what MF-Milano Finanza wrote on 21 December last, the Commission of Inquiry on Banks, chaired by Carla Ruocco, should directly hear the Governor of the Bank of Italy, Ignazio Visco, on January 20, on the issue of stones sold at the bank. Ruocco speaks of “disturbing profiles regarding the affair of the sale of diamonds to its customers by the major credit institutions operating in Italy”. The president intends to propose “an in-depth study on an issue that, if confirmed, would cast heavy shadows on the relationship of trust that must exist between banks and customers. Savers, entering the bank, must feel safe”, explains Ruocco.
As for Visco, on the control front, the governor added, “the law is clear: the Bank of Italy monitors the correctness of banking operations, Consob on financial investments, while this activity on diamonds, whether inside or outside the banks, and a commercial practice, the responsibility of which lies with the Agcm, which has in effect imposed heavy penalties on the banks concerned “.
From the institute in via Nazionale, “concerned about the legal and reputational risks of intermediaries”, the governor remembers, “after coordinating with the other authorities, we intervened several times, including with communications to the banks. Following an anti-money laundering inspection, this We imposed a severe sanction on a bank for which serious shortcomings in this area had emerged. We also gave maximum cooperation to the judicial authority. And there was no pressure from inside or outside “, underlined Visco.
On the political front, criticizing the top management of the Bank of Italy and the head of the Lega economy, Alberto Bagnai, according to which “the extremely serious words of the deputy director of the Bank of Italy, Alessandra Perrazzelli to the supervisory officer, Carlo Bertini, cannot pass in silence “, wrote Senator Bagnai. “As is clear from the interceptions disclosed by Report, to the official who reported to her on the role of organized crime in a banking scam, Perrazzelli replies that ‘managing this type of thing requires great freedom, it does not seem to me that this is the way, not only here ‘, and that in her professional life she has been taught to let such’ scary ‘events slip over her “.
Obvious “questions of opportunity suggest the immediate resignation of a deputy director who thus interprets the role of banking supervision”, continues Bagnai. Which reconfirms “the validity and urgency of the Bank of Italy’s governance reform proposal filed by the League on May 28, 2019. This governance needs to be adapted to European best practices to break a layer of self-referentiality, unique in Europe, which determines a substantial absence of responsibility of the top management, putting the savings of the Italians at risk “.
The story of investment diamonds sold over the counter of some banks at inflated prices and started in 2012 in the reports of the Milan prosecutor’s office, ended in 2021 (in 2017 the Antitrust intervened with a fine) and led to the request for postponement in the opinion of 105 people and five companies, of which four banks. Two intermediaries involved: International Diamond Business spa (in bankruptcy) and Diamond Private Investment spa (in liquidation). The investigation was conducted by the Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of the public prosecutor, Grazia Colacicco, who operated with the support of the Economic and Financial Police Unit of the Guardia di Finanza.
The crimes hypothesized, for various reasons, are fraud, self-laundering, money laundering, corruption between individuals and, in one case, an obstacle to the supervisory authority. Customers who had invested in precious stones found diamonds which on the market they later discovered to be worth on average 30%, with peaks of 20%, of what they had paid. This was possible because in 2016 many contracts were signed with commissions up to 24% in favor of the institutes, which caused the price of the stones to swell.
The legal persons for which the trial was requested are Banco Bpm, which together with one of its former managers (Maurizio Faroni), will also have to answer for an obstacle to the supervisory authority (the institute was born in 2017, from the merger of Banco Popolare and Bpm, inheriting the diamond dossier), its subsidiary Banca Aletti, Unicredit, Banca Mps and Idb. Two other companies under investigation, Intesa Sanpaolo and Dpi, instead requested a plea bargain, already obtaining the favorable opinion of the prosecutor. The proceeding, which had led to the preventive seizure for 747 million euros, over time has shrunk to about 370 million, a third of which consisted of stones sealed in blisters with their own guarantee certificate. (All rights reserved)

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