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Italian probe PKB private bank officials under investigation for fiscal fraud

The building of the PKB Private Bank in Lugano, Switzerland

The headquarters of the PKB Private Bank in Lugano, Switzerland

(Keystone)

Eighteen managers at the Swiss private bank PKB Privatbank are being investigated in Italy for fiscal fraud and money laundering, according to an Italian prosecutor. 

The Milan Public Prosecutor's Office, led by Francesco Greco, is carrying out the investigation against the officials, who are residents in Italy where PKB owns the Italian private bank Cassa Lombarda. 

On Wednesday, Italian police carried out searches of the people under investigation and seized documents and electronic devices at the Cassa Lombarda headquarters in Milan, the prosecutor said. 

In a statement, PKB confirmed to Reuters that the bank and some of its staff were being investigated. 

“As far as we know, the investigation tends to assess the way the bank has operated on the Italian market in past years and does not concern its customers,” it said. 

“We believe that the bank and its partners have always acted according to the existing regulation,” it added. 

Banca Lombarda said its headquarters had been searched by order of the Milan prosecutor on Wednesday in relation to a criminal investigation it was not directly involved in. 

The prosecutor suspects managers to have collected money from 198 Italian clients since 2015, which they knew came from tax evasion; the cash was then transferred to PKB in Switzerland. 

The investigation follows the registration of €409 million (CHF468 million) in Italy via a voluntary disclosure scheme that allows Italian residents to repatriate capital held abroad, Greco said. 

The prosecutor said his team had questioned 50 people in the Milan area, checked 1.5 million telephone calls and mapped out the managers’ activities to “prove the existence of a stable and hidden organization”. 

ANSA/RSI/Reuters/sb

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