ECB fines rescued Italian bank €11.2 million

The European Central Bank has fined an Italian bank in the throes of a state rescue for breaking rules on risk and disclosing information, the Frankfurt institution said on Friday.

ECB fines rescued Italian bank €11.2 million
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Regulators decided in May to fine Banco Popolare di Vicenza a total of €11.2 million euros ($13.4 million), the ECB said in a press release.

Some €8.7 million of the sum was a penalty for the bank missing requirements in quarterly and annual reports in 2014 and 2015.

On top of that, the supervisors levied €2.5 million over the bank breaching limits on large exposures to risk between December 2015 and March 2016.

The rule is supposed to prevent financial institutions making themselves too vulnerable to losses stemming from the failure of a single client or group of connected clients.

Popolare di Vicenza is one of two failing banks from the Venice region liquidated by the Italian state in June, ahead of a takeover by the country's biggest lender Intesa Sanpaolo.

The firms had been struggling with a heavy burden of non-performing loans – debts where the borrowers have failed to keep up repayments.

Friday's punishment marks only the second time the ECB has used its power to issue fines, through the so-called Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM).

It slapped a €2.5 million penalty on Irish lender Permanent TSB in August for failing to keep enough liquid assets on hand.

The SSM branch of the ECB has since 2014 been the top banking regulator in the 19-nation euro single currency area.


Accent mimics and trashy news land police in hot water

Over-zealous police chiefs in Verona have slapped officers with a rang of disciplinary procedures, including such innocuous crimes as "mimicking a Campania accent".

Accent mimics and trashy news land police in hot water
A policeman in Verona was sanctioned for putting on a southern accent.Photo: Patrick Rasenburg/Flickr

Since 2011, some 152 disciplinary procedures have been opened against police officers, but unions say the action against a series of ridiculous 'offences' has created a “climate of exasperation” among the city's force.

In one case, reported by Il Fatto Quotidiano, a disciplinary procedure was opened against a police officer who “changed his voice to affect the cadences of the Campania dialect”.

Italy's southern region of Campania is renowned for its strong regional accent and distinct set of often incomprehensible dialects.

But police chiefs didn't find the accent funny. Indeed, they thought it “risked disorientating staff”. Unsurprisingly, the disciplinary action was later shelved.

Unions say many examples of similarly draconian and often nonsensical procedures have been brought against Verona's officers in the last five years.

One policeman was reportedly pulled up by management for “leaving clear footprints on the seats” of the station, while another was accused of leaving “a specious and totally unfounded newspaper article on their desk”.

The harsh sanctions are reportedly being meted out by officers loyal to unpopular police chief Luigi Altamura, who has repeatedly clashed with staff over changes to contracts and working hours.