Bank of China says it will cooperate with Italians in probe

AP News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 12:13 AM

SHANGHAI (AP) — The Bank of China said it would cooperate with Italian prosecutors seeking to indict the bank and hundreds of Chinese migrants following a massive money-laundering probe reported by The Associated Press earlier this month.

In a statement Tuesday, the bank said it has not received any formal prosecution documents from Italian authorities. But company secretary Yeung Cheung Ying said the bank will "provide timely disclosure in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations."

Italian officials are seeking to charge 297 people, including four senior managers of the bank's Milan branch, as well as the branch itself.

Prosecutors said more than 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) in proceeds from counterfeiting and other illicit activities was sent to China using a money-transfer service part-owned by Chinese migrants. Nearly half that money went through the Bank of China's Milan branch, which had an exclusive contract with the money transfer network, prosecutors said.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's said an indictment would be unlikely to impact the bank's credit rating, given its sizeable asset base of 16 trillion yuan ($2.6 trillion) and the "very high likelihood of extraordinary support from the Chinese government."

Bank of China shares were up 0.7 percent, to HK$5.44 in morning trade in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

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Associated Press writer Richard Lardner in Washington contributed to this report.