MILAN (Reuters) - A Milan judge on Tuesday ordered top Italian banker Alessandro Profumo and another 19 people to stand trial for alleged tax fraud at UniCredit (CRDI.MI) stemming from the use of a financial instrument provided by Barclays (BARC.L), a legal source said.
The case centers on suspected tax fraud in 2007 and 2008 from a complex financial scheme, known as Project Brontos, which was set up by Britain’s Barclays to the benefit of Italy’s largest bank by assets UniCredit.
Profumo, who was UniCredit chief executive at the time, said in a statement he was looking forward to the trial which could not but recognize that he acted correctly.
“So that an end can be put to the reputational damage which I am de facto, though unjustly, suffering,” he said in a note released by Italy’s third-biggest lender Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI) where Profumo is chairman.
Profumo is under accusation for having authorized the operation, judicial and investigative sources have said.
In a separate statement UniCredit also expressed confidence that the trial would clear the conduct of the bank and its former and current employees.
The first hearing is scheduled for October 1, the legal source said.
The Project Brontos financial scheme is a ‘Profit participation instrument’ (PPI). Prosecutors say the PPI allowed UniCredit to depict part of its income as dividends, benefitting from a more favorable tax rate under Italian law.
Shares in UniCredit were up 0.8 percent by 7:25 a.m. EDT (1125 GMT) against a 0.6 percent rise in the European banking stock index .SX7P. Monte dei Paschi rose nearly 5 percent boosted by a press report about a possible branch sale.
Reporting by Sara Rossi; Additional reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter