October 29, 2019 / 10:31 AM / 14 days ago

Italian court sends former Sole 24 Ore editor to trial: source

MILANO (Reuters) - A Milan court on Tuesday ordered the former editor-in-chief of Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy’s leading business daily, to stand trial on charges of false accounting and market manipulation, a source who attended the committal hearing said.

The court accepted settlement requests by the Il Sole’s publisher as well as its former chief executive and former chairman, following a probe into alleged market manipulation.

Prosecutors had alleged the group inflated digital sales data to paint a favorable picture of the group’s financial health, an accusation all the executives involved have denied.

The trial for Roberto Napoletano, at the helm of the daily from 2011 to 2017, is due to start on Jan. 16. It was not immediately possible to reach his lawyers for comment.

Napoletano told news agency ANSA he could not accept a settlement over a crime he did not commit, adding that the trial would prove his innocence.

Former CEO Donatella Treu accepted a sentence of one year and eight months and a deposit payment as compensation of 300,000 euros ($332,400.00), the source added. For former chairman Benito Benedini the sentence was one year, five months and 20 days and a deposit payment as compensation of 100,000 euros. Neither is expected to serve any prison time.

Benedini’s lawyer confirmed the sentence and compensation. It was not immediately possible to reach Treu’s lawyer.

Il Sole 24 Ore was due to pay 50,310 euros as compensation, the source said. A statement by the publisher confirmed it had reached a settlement agreement but gave no details on the compensation amount.

All the accused have always rejected the accusations and according to Italian law, settlement does not imply admission of guilt.

Reporting by Alfredo Fajeta, writing by Cristina Carlevaro, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Louise Heavens

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