Italian premier chides ECB for lack of transparency

AP News
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Posted: Dec 29, 2016 12:51 PM
Italian premier chides ECB for lack of transparency

MILAN (AP) — Italy's premier said Thursday that he was taken aback by the European Central Bank's move to significantly increase the amount of money needed to save the troubled bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena.

Paolo Gentiloni said that the government would discuss the final figure with the ECB, but that such talks "do not put in discussions the tranquility, the capacity and the relevance of our intervention."

The comments echo those by his finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, who chided the ECB in an interview with the business daily Il Sole 24 Ore for not being transparent in how it arrived at the 8.8 billion-euro figure.

The government last week approved a 20 billion-euro fund to secure banks at risk, chief among which was Monte dei Paschi, Italy's third-largest lender, which had failed to raise enough capital on its own.

Monte dei Paschi had been trying but failed to raise 5 billion euros in new capital after failing an EU stress test last summer.

Gentiloni said the higher capital requirement for the bank means the government would put in 6.6 billion euros. The government has said that the 20 billion euros it has earmarked remain sufficient to reinforce the banking sector, which is under pressure from a high level of bad loans that won't be paid back.

Gentiloni said that the rescue of Monte dei Paschi, which aims to prevent losses for private Italian investors — many of them small savers and pensioners — "will be long and complicated, we don't hide that."

In a sign that the bailout could take months to complete, the European Union's executive Commission said Thursday it would allow Italian authorities to keep supporting Monte dei Paschi with liquidity until June 30 while they plan the rescue and restructuring of the bank.

The rescue plan would then require further Commission approval to ensure it does not break rules against state aid to individual companies.