The Milan public prosecutor has asked for the indictment of 105 people and five companies: Banco Bpm, Unicredit, Mps, Banca Aletti and Intermarket Diamond Business spa (Idb). The article by Emanuela Rossi
The criminal proceedings for the diamond scam continue, which involved banks and sales companies and which damaged thousands of investors, including Vasco Rossi and the entrepreneur Diana Bracco. After a few years of investigation, the Milan public prosecutor asked for the indictment of 105 people and five companies: Banco Bpm, Unicredit, Mps, Banca Aletti and Intermarket Diamond Business spa (Idb). On the other hand, the position of Intesa Sanpaolo and Diamond Private Investment spa (Dpi), which asked to negotiate, was removed. Moreover, the case also includes the intervention of the Italian Competition Authority which in 2017 imposed fines of over 15 million euros on Banco Bpm, Intesa Sanpaolo, Montepaschi, Unicredit and the two brokers.
WHAT THE ATTORNEY HAS DECIDED ON THE DIAMONDS CASE
The Milan prosecutor's office therefore requested the indictment of 105 people and five companies , including four credit institutions, in the proceedings underway. As reported by Ansa and Reuters, the charges are fraud, self-laundering and corruption among private individuals, for an allegedly unfair profit to the detriment of small investors, which the Milanese prosecutor has quantified in about 500 million euros, 314 of which for brokers of the precious stones.
The defendants are executives, former executives, officials and former officers of the credit institutions and the two diamond brokers. Antitrust, the Bank of Italy, the consumer associations Codacons and Asso-Consum and the company Camelot Holding.
THE EVENT OF DIAMONDS
The investigation, which was closed in October 2019, in February of the same year led to the seizure of over 700 million from Dpi and the banks involved. According to the Milan prosecutor, both brokers and credit institutions are guilty: the former would have conducted the scam until December 2016 while the latter were aware of the deceptive action. Banks that, in fact, since 2017, after the fine imposed by the Competition and Market Authority, have begun to return the money in full by buying back the stones at the original price. All except Banco Bpm which recognized the difference between the presumed actual value and the price paid while leaving the diamonds in the hands of customers.
HOW THE DIAMONDS SCAM EXPLAINED
According to what was reconstructed in the prosecution documents, the banking operators offered customers the purchase of diamonds as a safe-haven asset with certain liquidity, which would have guaranteed returns between 2% and 5%. As for the cost, it was made to believe that the price paid was the actual value of the stone but in reality it included 20% VAT, the commissions to the banks, the costs of the selling company (insurance, deposit). In short, from the appraisals carried out, the actual value of the diamonds was between 30% and 50% of the price paid. Then, if the customer wanted to sell the diamonds, he would have to pay the brokers a commission that varied between 7 and 16%, depending on the duration of the investment.
WHO HAS BARGAINED ON DIAMONDS
It should be remembered, as mentioned, that both Intesa Sanpaolo and Diamond Private Investment have requested a plea bargain and have already obtained a favorable opinion from the prosecutor. In particular, Ca 'de Sass will have to pay 100 thousand euros and suffer the confiscation of 61 thousand euros as a profit from the crime, while for Dpi the pecuniary penalty is 34 thousand euros and the confiscation exceeds 88 million.
THE CASE OF BANCO BPM
Banco Bpm deserves a separate chapter to which, as Business Insider recalls, the Milan Public Prosecutor's Office in the criminal proceedings in February two years ago notified a preventive seizure decree for 84.6 million and a guarantee information "for administrative offense for the crime of alleged self-laundering "and" for the hypothesis of an obstacle to the exercise of the functions of the public supervisory authorities ". According to what is read in the 2020 financial statements drawn up by Banco Bpm published last January, in the notice closing the preliminary investigations, "the Public Prosecutor also charged some former managers and employees of the Group with the crime of aggravated fraud, self-laundering, the exercise of the functions of the public supervisory authorities and corruption between private individuals ". Business Insider recalls that in May 2019 the general manager, Maurizio Faroni, had resigned from the group as he was suspended a few months earlier because he was involved in the affair.
In total, “about 23,700 complaints were received for a total petitum of about 700 million; of these approximately 1,300 have given rise to civil proceedings which see the defendant bank for a total petitum of approximately 64 million ”. In January 2021, it is noted, "complaints and disputes for a total petitum exceeding 500 million were defined". These are considerable figures that explain why the group led by has decided not to fully reimburse customers who have submitted a complaint – unlike what has been done by Intesa Sanpaolo, Unicredit and Montepaschi – but to analyze the situation on a case-by-case basis. Banco Bpm has also set up a "diamond" fund for reimbursements which was used for 256.6 million and which "seems to coincide with the figure that the Milanese group has put on the plate to close the 500 million disputes: it is just over half of the money requested with complaints.
THE SANCTION OF THE ANTITRUST AND THE INTERVENTION OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE
In 2017, the Antitrust Authority had sanctioned the protagonists of the affair for over 15 million euros. The profiles of impropriety found by Piazza Verdi at the end of the proceedings concerned the misleading and omissive information disseminated through the site and the promotional material prepared regarding the sale price of the diamonds, presented as a market price, the result of an objective survey published on the main economic newspapers, the trend of the diamond market, represented in stable and constant growth, the easy resale of diamonds at the indicated prices and with certain timing and finally the qualification of professionals as market leaders.
In reality, the Authority had discovered that the market prices were the sale prices freely determined by professionals to an extent well above the purchase cost of the stone and the international benchmarks of reference and that the prospects for resale were linked only to the possibility that the professional find other customers within its circuit. Moreover, the Agcm had ascertained that the banks, the main sales channel for diamonds for both companies, offered the investment to a particular group of customers interested in buying diamonds as a safe haven and diversifying their investments. Specifically, fines of 2 million were imposed on IDB, 4 million on Unicredit, 3.35 million on Banco Bpm, 1 million on DPI, 3 million on Banca Intesa and finally 2 million on Montepaschi. Two days ago the Council of State accepted the sanctions imposed by the Antitrust on Unicredit and Banco Bpm reduced by 30% . According to the Board, in fact, “the role of the Bank assumes a less marked value than that of the sales company, having resolved to facilitate the sale of precious items”. Therefore, the "illegal but still secondary contribution of the bank does not seem to be able to justify the application of a sanction that is almost double the one imposed on the sales company, which is the main perpetrator of the offense, and this also taking into account the additional parameters set by the 'Authority ". For this reason, Palazzo Spada concluded, the sanction was "unreasonable" compared to the conduct "actually attributable".
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/economia/mps-bpm-banca-aletti-e-non-solo-ecco-la-figuraccia-sui-diamanti/ on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 08:10:41 +0000.