GENOA, Italy Feb 22 A Genoa court said on
Wednesday it had sentenced Giovanni Berneschi, the 79-year-old
former chairman of local bank Banca Carige, to eight
years and two months in jail for fraud, criminal association
and money laundering.
Berneschi was ousted from his job in September 2013 after 20
years as Carige's chairman in a management overhaul imposed by
the Bank of Italy following audits that revealed poor lending
practices, a large derivatives exposure and questionable
Carige, long seen as one of the weak links in Italy's
battered banking system, is preparing a new business plan after
European Central Bank supervisors told it to cut its problem
In Italy, defendants are allowed two appeals and are
considered innocent until the final court ruling is delivered, a
process which can take years and is regularly cut short by the
statute of limitations, which limits the amount of time a
magistrate can pursue a case.
Pending the final ruling, the jail sentence is suspended.
But the Genoa court said it had put Berneschi under probation.
"All that was left for them to do was to shoot me," he told
reporters on his way out of the court.
Carige's shares have fallen sharply in the past couple of
years because of uncertainty over whether the bank will need to
seek more capital after raising a total of 1.6 billion
euros($1.68 billion) in two successive share sales in 2014 and
Carige has said in the past it considered itself a damaged
party and it is expected to seek damages from its former
chairman. The bank had no comment on the ruling.
($1 = 0.9513 euros)
(Reporting by Paola Balsomini; writing by Valentina Za. Editing
by Jane Merriman)