Man kills himself as bank failure wipes out savings

Share this article

The Italian government approved a privately funded rescue plan for Italy's troubled banks in November. Photo: Damien Mayer/AFP
13:13 CET+01:00
The death of a pensioner, who killed himself after losing his life savings as a result of a controversial move by the government to rescue four banks, has sparked outrage in Italy, with two consumer associations calling for a criminal case inquiry.

The 68-year-old hung himself at his home in Civitavecchia, a port town near Rome, after the so-called “save banks” plan wiped out €100,000 in savings held at Banca Etruria, one of the four lenders included in the government rescue deal announced on November 22nd.

“This is a disgrace and an absolute tragedy – the deposits of smaller investors are not guaranteed. The people managing the banks must be the ones to take responsibility,” Elio Lannutti, the president of Adusbef, a consumers' association which alongside Codacons has asked criminal prosecutors to start an investigation, told The Local.

The rescue deal, set up by the Bank of Italy, saw the creation of a private fund to raise €3.6 billion for the struggling banks, which included Banca Marche, CariFerrari and CariChieti.

If the bank rescue had come just five weeks later, the man's savings and those of thousands of others might have been saved by new EU rules, which come into force on 1st January.

The intention is to restructure and recapitalize the lenders with funds raised from Italy’s healthy banks, while combining their non-performing loans in a separate “bad bank”.

The rescue plan was ushered in before the EU's so-called "bail-in" rules  – under which account holders with deposits of more than €100,000, along with shareholders and bondholders, would bear the brunt of losses before any public money can be used to bail a bank out - take effect.

But the move has seen some 130,000 people who held shares and bonds across the four banks lose their investments, Lannutti said.

"It amounts to a complete swindle. The only guarantees in place are for the higher savers,"  he added.

The pensioner, a former worker for the energy firm Enel, had banked with Banca Etruria for over fifty years, with most of his life savings tied up in bonds.

The government had promised to introduce a “humanitarian” measure to reduce the impact on small investors.

But that was no assurance for the pensioner, whose body was found by his wife a week after the rescue plan was announced.

In a document found on his computer, the man accused the bank of changing its strategy to protect bigger investors over smaller ones.

Months before the rescue plan was announced, he tried to recuperate his savings, even suggesting to the bank that he was prepared to accept less, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

Adusbef and Codacons have asked prosecutors to investigate whether the rescue plan decree is "compatible with criminal laws and the Constitution".

Story continues below…

Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right Northern League, took to Twitter to call on the resignation of the Bank of Italy chief, Ignazio Visco.

He also lambasted the government, suggesting it was to blame for the suicide.

"Pensioner from Civitavecchia commits suicide, he loses his life savings because of Banca Etruria and an absent government."


Share this article

From our sponsors

Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections

Election Day in the U.S. is less than a month away, and time is running out for Americans living overseas to vote absentee. Here's what to do before it’s too late.


Popular articles