The head of Italy’s largest leftist party has come under fresh fire over a banking scandal that has dented its reputation. It comes after a newspaper printed wiretapped conversations between Pierro Fassino, the head of the Democrats of the Left, and Giovanni Consorte, the outgoing chairman of insurance firm, Unipol.“So, do we own a bank?” Fassino asks Consorte according to the transcript. He then appears to correct himself: “You own a bank, I have nothing to do with it.” Although there is no suggestion Fassino committed a crime, he is accused of inappropriately supporting Unipol’s ongoing hostile takeover bid for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. The transcripts were recorded as part of a legal investigation into Consorte who is under suspicion of wrongdoing in two separate bank takeovers. Now opposition leader Romano Prodi has waded into the affair by calling on his allies to act more ethically. “The events of recent weeks show that there existed, and that there still exists, a close relation between politics and economic powers which in some cases have overstepped the mark,” he said. But Prodi, who will lead the centre left against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in April’s general election, held back from directly criticising his main ally. The various financial scandals led to the arrest of two senior Italian bankers last month and forced Antonio Fazio to quit as Bank of Italy governor.
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