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Former UBI top executives acquitted in governance trial By Reuters

Former UBI top executives acquitted in governance trial 2/2 © Reuters. UBI Bank CEO Victor Massiah gestures during an interview with Reuters in downtown Milan July 6, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo/Files 2/2

MILAN (Reuters) -An Italian court on Friday acquitted the former top executives of UBI Banca in a trial over alleged governance irregularities at the regional bank, which is now part of the Intesa Sanpaolo (OTC:ISNPY) group.

Former UBI CEO Victor Massiah and Intesa Sanpaolo’s Honorary Chairman Giovanni Bazoli were both acquitted together with another 27 people on trial due to accusations they obstructed regulators, two attorneys who were in the room told Reuters.

“I deeply appreciate the professional qualities and independence shown by the Bergamo court,” Bazoli said in a statement. “It’s not acceptable though that … people’s lives were scarred by this judicial trouble for seven years.”

At a hearing in May, prosecutors had sought a five-year prison sentence for Massiah, while requesting six years and eight months in jail for Bazoli.

Only one former UBI executive was convicted. The public judgment was read in a courtroom in the northern city of Bergamo.

Intesa Sanpaolo, which last year took over UBI to become Italy’s largest bank, was also acquitted. Under Italian law, companies are liable for crimes committed by their employees.

Prosecutors had alleged two groups of investors tied by shareholder agreements had unduly influenced the outcome of the 2013 general meeting by improperly collecting proxy votes.

The defendants and UBI itself have always rejected the accusations and said they had acted correctly.