FLORENCE, Oct 31 (Reuters) - An Italian court said on Saturday there was no proof to back up allegations three top officials at Italy’s biggest bank by assets UniCredit had helped a businessman who prosecutors claimed had links to the Sicilian mafia, according to a court document.
UniCredit’s deputy chairman Fabrizio Palenzona and two other top officials have been placed under investigation by anti-mafia prosecutors.
The prosecutors’ allegations were contained in a search warrant that had been seen Reuters.
A Florence court on Saturday annulled the search warrant saying there was no evidence to support allegations of fraud or helping the mafia, according to the court document.
The court called on material seized under the search warrant to be returned, the document, seen by Reuters, said.
“The court could do nothing else but recognise that the search warrant, annulled today, was based literally on nothing,” Palenzona’s lawyer Massimo Dinoia said in a note.
Earlier this month UniCredit said a preliminary review it had conducted had shown no wrongdoing and it reaffirmed its confidence in the officials.
Prosecutors alleged that Palenzona and two other top managers at the bank helped arrange debt restructuring for Andrea Bulgarella, an entrepreneur whom prosecutors claimed had links to Matteo Messina Denaro, one of Italy’s most wanted men.
But the Florence court in its court order on Saturday said no restructuring plan of the debt of the Bulgarella group had ever been approved by UniCredit.
The judges also said not only was there no proof to show Bulgarella had relations with the Mafia, but that he had opposed it.
Bulgarella has denied any wrongdoing and, in particular, allegations that he is linked to the mafia.
Reporting by Silvia Ognibene, writing by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Susan Thomas