Prosecutors question editor, ex-managers at Italy's top financial daily - source


 Reuters International

By Manuela D'Alessandro

MILAN (Reuters) - The editor of Italy's biggest-selling financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore and two former top managers are being investigated by Milan prosecutors for allegedly issuing false corporate statements, a judicial source said on Friday.

Tax police searched the headquarters of the newspaper in Milan on Friday, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Another seven people, including former managers at the company, were also being investigated, some of them over allegations of embezzlement, the source said.

Il Sole 24 Ore issued a statement saying its "new management, engaged in the restructuring and relaunch of the company, reaffirm their intention to collaborate with the investigators to establish what happened".

Editor Roberto Napoletano did not respond to requests for comment made by Reuters by mobile phone messaging and an email.

The police declined to comment.

Journalists at the newspaper decided on Friday to go on strike until Napoletano resigned, a person present at the meeting said.

In early October, journalists took a no-confidence vote against him after the group said its first-half loss had widened to 50 million euros ($54 million) from 12 million euros a year before and that it had to assess whether it could continue to operate.

Italy's business lobby Confindustria, which owns 67.5 percent of the newspaper, said in a statement it would consider what actions to take to safeguard Sole's shareholders.

A copy of the search warrant seen by Reuters said prosecutors, who are also looking into allegations of false accounting at the group, were investigating whether the newspaper's digital sales data had been artificially inflated.

Il Sole 24 Ore said in December that 34 percent fewer copies of the paper were distributed in 2015 than previously thought, based on the outcome of an internal audit which market regulator Consob had forced it to disclose to shareholders.

($1 = 0.9375 euros)

(Additional reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, editing by Mark Potter/Ruth Pitchford)

Reuters

 Reuters International