Monte Paschi former finance chief held in Italy
The Italian police on Thursday arrested the former head of Monte dei Paschi's finance department, who is at the centre of a fraud and bribery probe at Italy’s third largest bank, two investigative sources told Reuters. The sources said the man arrested was Gianluca Baldassarri, who left Monte dei Paschi shortly after the arrival of new chief executive Fabrizio Viola in January 2012. One of the sources said he was detained because prosecutors feared he may leave the country. The sources said searches were under way in Milan. Italian prosecutors seized some 40 million euros last week as part of their investigation. The prosecution seizure order, seen by Reuters, said the funds belonged to Baldassarri and four other people. The five are suspected of criminal conspiracy to commit fraud, according to the prosecution document. The finance department headed by Baldassarri is at the heart of a derivatives scandal that has rocked Monte dei Paschi, which last week put losses stemming from three derivatives trades at 730 million euros.
ING to sell KB Financial stake for $675 m: IFR
Dutch financial services group ING plans to sell its remaining stake of around 5% in South Korea’s KB Financial Group Inc, a deal valued at up to $675 million, IFR reported on Thursday. ING is looking to divest several businesses in Asia, including its South Korean insurance unit, to help repay a 10 billion euro state bailout received during the global financial crisis. The Dutch company is the second-biggest shareholder in KB Financial, the parent of South Korea’s top lender Kookmin Bank. South Korea’s National Pension Service is the top shareholder with 8.2%. ING is offering 19.4 million shares between 37,480-37,750 won each, said IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication. That represents a discount of up to 1.4% to Thursday’s close of 38,000 won.
Britain’s Labour party proposes mansion tax
The leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party called on Thursday for a tax on expensive homes to fund a new lower-income tax band to help the country’s lowest earners. Setting out some of the first concrete ideas of what his party would offer voters at the next election, which is expected in 2015, Ed Miliband said a Labour government would introduce a tax on houses worth over £2 million. “We will use the money raised by a mansion tax to reintroduce a lower 10 pence starting rate of tax, with