milano: embarrassed again

Posted on December 17, 2005


antonio_fazio.jpgby peter gillies

Events are finally starting to catch up with the current head of the Bank of Italy, Antonio Fazio.

You may recall that I wrote about his antics a couple of months ago, when the whole sorry saga hit the world press. He was accused of misusing his position as the Governor of the Bank of Italy in order to support his friend and father of his daughter’s fiancé, Gianpiero Fiorani.

The latest events to unfold almost read out of the pages of a cheap thriller. Fiorani has been arrested on suspicion of embezzlement, market manipulation and association with known criminals. He has been joined by former chief finance officer, Gianfranco Boni and Silvano Spinelli, a financial consultant and former BPI executive. Prosecutors are investigating how the Banca Popolare Italiana, where the three arrested gentlemen worked, built up such a large shareholding in the Banca Antonveneta at the height of the battle for ownership being fought with Dutch bank, ANB Amro.

Fazio himself is not being investigated alongside his daughter’s boyfriend’s father – but he IS under investigation now by the EU who commenced legal action against the Italy on Tuesday of this week (13th December).

Fazio is still hanging on to his comfortable armchair though – not a man who considers that his actions are presently embarrassing an entire country – obviously. The actions of Fazio and his friends have now resulted in the entire Italian banking system coming under the eagle-eyed gaze of the European Commission, who have now formally given notice that they require the Italian government to take action and resolve what is seen to be a secretive and unfair financial institution that is acting against the financial interests of Europe as a whole. Of course, to say that it is also acting against the interests of Italy itself is an understatement. With such underhanded and deceitful activities, foreign investment into Italy is suffering – which will contribute even more bad news to the ailing economy that has gone much further in the last 5 years toward lining certain people’s purses than to build a strong economy in Italy itself.

Of course, the Bank of Italy hasn’t actually broken any Italian laws, according to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s lawyer and spokesman, Luigi Grillo (no relation to Bepe). He said that: “One thing needs to be clear: the Bank of Italy abided by Italian law and nobody has contested this”, going on to add: “There’s an (EU) commissioner who says (the Bank of Italy) didn’t comply with E.U. procedures… We’ll see; it’s not certain that he’s right”, noting the E.U.’s infringement procedure was against Italy and not its central bank.

We can be sure that Silvio believes he has distanced himself from this charade. Now he can rub his hands in glee at the prospect of blaming the EU for Italy’s financial problems without interferance from any annoying bank. That should then justifying his pulling Italy out of the EMU and the Euro – thereby allowing him to devalue the newly returned Lira without anyone noticing. Ahem. I’ll go now, shall I?