Ligresti family arrested in Fonsai probe

ROME – Tax police have arrested members of the Ligresti family, former majority owners of the insurance company Fondiaria-SAI, on charges of false accounting and market manipulation. Salvatore Ligresti, ex-chairman of Fondiaria, was placed under house arrest, as was Antonio Talarico and the ex-CEO of the company, Fausto Marchionni. Ligresti’s daughters Jonella and Giula are being held in jail while an arrest warrant was issued for their brother, Gioacchino Paolo Ligresti, who is currently staying in Switzerland. Police said that they were waiting for him to turn himself before asking the Swiss authorities to detain him. Fondiaria is being scrutinised by the finance watchdogs for a 600 million-euro ‘hole’ in its claim reserves. Police said that the failure to communicate such a “sensitive and crucial piece of information for investors” caused over 12,000 savers to lose money. The investigation is being spearheaded by Vittorio Nessi and Marco Gianoglio who are focusing on deals made by Fondiaria-Sai between 2008 and 2011. According to a police statement, the Fondiaria reserves for outstanding insurance claims were purposefully underestimated to permit the family to move 253 million euros into holding company Premafin Finanziaria SpA. Deputy Prosecutor Nessi said that the Ligrestis spread “false information, hid losses and thereby influenced the decisions of shareholders.” The markets have reacted surprisingly cautiously to the news of the arrest with only a 1% drop.