Updated: 02/25/2013 11:09 | By Agence France-Presse

Qantas director resigns over Italy bank scandal links

A director at Australia's Qantas Airways resigned from the board Monday after being linked to scandals at Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world's oldest surviving bank.


Corinne Namblard, a French and Canadian citizen, denies any wrongdoing but offered her resignation to Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford after media reports linked her to the scandal at Italy's third-largest bank.

Namblard told Clifford over the weekend that she "believes that it is in the best interests of both Qantas and herself that she resigns from the Qantas board", the airline said in a statement, citing the reports in Italy.

Namblard joined the Qantas board as a non-executive director in 2011 after 10 years as chief executive of the Luxembourg-based transport equity fund Galaxy.

Italian media have linked Namblard to the controversial 2007 privatisation of Siena airport, in which her Galaxy fund was the successful bidder for the controlling stake held in the airport by the 540-year-old BMPS.

Bid-rigging and fraud have been alleged in the transaction.

Clifford said Namblard "strenuously denies any wrongdoing in relation to the matters which are the subject of the Italian proceedings, and the Qantas board has no reason whatsoever to doubt that position".

Namblard "was especially concerned to ensure that the continuing media focus on the current Italian proceedings did not distract Qantas from implementing its strategic imperatives" as the airline restructures, he said.

Prosecutors launched legal proceedings into BMPS after media revealed that hundreds of millions of euros were missing from its accounts following risky investments in complex financial products.

According to Italian media, the bank's directors tried to hide the losses.

The investigation also centres on the bank's 2007 acquisition of Antonveneta from Spanish banking group Santander for 10 billion euros ($13 billion), at least 2.0 billion euros more than the small bank's estimated value at the time.

Accusations range from conspiracy to fraud, including the provision of false information and preventing proper oversight by banking authorities.

The bank insisted on February 7 that there were no more skeletons in its closet, a day after admitting losses linked to high-risk investments totalling 730 million euros.

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