December 15, 2016 / 8:59 AM / a year ago

Italy finance police search Popolare Bari bank-statement

BARI, Italy, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Italy’s finance police have searched the offices of cooperative bank Popolare di Bari as part of an inquiry into alleged obstruction of regulators, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Popolare di Bari is one of Italy’s large cooperative banks which are part of a reform of the sector to convert them into joint stock companies. The bank has yet to adopt the changes mandated by the reform.

“The investigation aims to shed light on possible irregularities at the bank in recent years,” Bari prosecutors said in a statement. “The alleged crime is obstruction of regulators.”

The bank, which is located in southern Italy, had no immediate comment.

Regional lenders in northern Italy, Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, which shed their cooperative status last year, are already part of a separate investigation on suspicion of obstructing regulators.

Those banks are suspected of having loaned money to clients to buy shares in the banks, in order to allegedly artificially boost their value. (Reporting by Vincenzo Damiani, writing by Valentina Za, editing by Philip Pullella)

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