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Former UniCredit SpA (UCG) Chief Executive Officer Alessandro Profumo is among 20 bankers and ex-managers of Italy’s biggest lender and of Barclays Plc (BARC) charged with fraud in a tax probe linked to an investment plan known as Brontos.
Milan judge Laura Marchiondelli today scheduled the trial for Oct. 1, prosecutor Alfredo Robledo said. UniCredit used the Brontos vehicle, arranged by Barclays, to evade taxes, according to Robledo.
Brontos was created to make it appear that interest on a deposit account were dividends earned on fictitious securities, Robledo has said in court papers. Interest earned on deposits is taxed in full in Italy, while the rate on dividends is 5 percent.
UniCredit said the bank and its employees “acted with transparency and in good faith,” adding it’s confident that they will be cleared at the trial, the Milan-based lender said in a statement. Profumo, now chairman of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, said in a separate statement that he’s certain that the trial will prove he acted correctly. Barclays said in an e-mailed statement that it didn’t violate any laws.
Barclays used a Luxembourg unit to issue Turkish-lira securities that were purchased by its Milan branch, Robledo said in court documents. With several transactions involving a unit of Barclays in London and currency swaps, Barclays allegedly enabled UniCredit to earn interest of about 20 percent in 2007, or five times the amount it could have earned on the interbank market, Robledo said.
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