Wider Lavoro Scandal Seen by Italian Lawmaker

ROME - A scandal over irregular loans by the Atlanta branch of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro to Iraq expanded on Saturday. An Italian government official said that the scheme apparently involved several other countries and billions more dollars than previously reported.

The statement came from Gianuario Carta, head of an Italian senate committee investigating the scandal involving Italy's second-largest, treasury-owned bank.

Two former Lavoro executives from Atlanta were accused last spring by an Atlanta grand jury of conspiring to illegally arrange more than $4 billion in unauthorized loans to Iraq.

Allegations of Other Schemes

Mr. Carta, in an interview on state radio, quoted a Lavoro official as saying the Atlanta branch had hatched other schemes similar to the alleged Iraqi loans.

He refused to identify the deals, but Italian newspapers Saturday said companies in Bulgaria, Algeria, and Turkey were involved.

Mr. Carta commented on statements made Thursday night by a top Lavoro official, Gian Maria Sartoretti. The bank official had pleaded for the parliamentary commission to hear his testimony in private, saying he feared for the safety of his family.

Mr. Carta said in the course of the interview that the amount of money involved in the loans to the other countries was apparently "much more" than that involved in the Iraqi case.

"This information must be verified, but the statements [by Mr. Sartoretti] are very serious and very well-documented," Mr. Carta said.

Mr. Sartoretti, head of the international financial institutions division, was put under disciplinary investigation by Lavoro last month.

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