Renzi brushes off talk of favoritism in saving Italian banks

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ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Matteo Renzi on Sunday dismissed critics who contend his government showed partiality in saving four local banks, including one whose former vice president is the father of his reforms minister.

Renzi said tersely that there was "no favoritism at all by the government" behind the measure to rescue the ailing banks with a 4-billion-euro ($4.4 billion) fund established by three large, healthy Italian banks.

Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan met with a committee of investors on behalf of those who lost money — in many cases an entire life's savings — when they purchased bonds through one of the troubled banks. The committee says far more is needed to help them than the 100-million euro ($110 million) fund being considered for partial reimbursement.

Padoan told reporters there will be a "case-by-case" review of how each investor was handled by bank officials "to determine any individual, single responsibility" by the officials.

"This will serve both to pinpoint responsibility as well as to decide terms of reimbursement" to investors, Padoan said.

Renzi's government moved to save the banks ahead of EU rules that will take effect on Jan. 1 and that will make it harder to use such rescue measures.

Separately, a prosecutor is investigating to see if the suicide of one of the investors, a retiree who lost 110,000 euros (121,000) in bonds at Banca Etruria, can be linked to any actions taken by banking officials.

Two opposition parties, including one by former center-right Premier Silvio Berlusconi, say they will present parliamentary motions of no-confidence against Reforms Minister Maria Elena Boschi, as they press for her resignation.

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