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Ex-Monte Paschi executives investigated in tax fraud case: source

The Monte dei Paschi bank logo is seen on the main entrance of the bank's headquarters in Siena March 12, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi
The Monte dei Paschi bank logo is seen on the main entrance of the bank's headquarters in Siena March 12, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi

MILAN (Reuters) - Eleven former Monte Paschi executives including the troubled bank's former chairman and director general have been investigated for tax fraud and may face trial, a judicial source said on Saturday.

Former Chairman Giuseppe Mussari and ex-director general Antonio Vigni were this week notified by a Siena court that an investigation into tax fraud had been concluded and that they could be charged and brought to trial, the source said.

The source added that prosecutor Antonino Nastasi would ask for the eleven to stand trial within a few weeks. A judge will decide whether a trial will go ahead.

Italian tax police believe the former executives ordered investments in foreign securities with the aim of reducing the bank's tax bill, taking advantage of different fiscal rules between Italy and foreign countries between 2005 and 2009.

The amount of unpaid taxes is estimated at around 180 million euros ($237 million), the source said.

Lawyers for Mussari and Vigni were not available for a comment on the issue. Prosecutors are not permitted to comment on cases on which they are working.

Monte dei Paschi, Italy's third-biggest lender, is at the center of a high-profile investigation into risky derivative trades and has been the only bank in the country to need state aid to shore up its strained capital base.

(Reporting by Silvia Ognibene; Writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by Paola Arosio and Mark Potter)

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