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Italian judges order seizure of 1.8 billion euros in Monte Paschi probe

The entrance of Monte Dei Paschi bank headquarters is pictured in Siena January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
The entrance of Monte Dei Paschi bank headquarters is pictured in Siena January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

SIENA, Italy (Reuters) - Italian judges ordered the seizure of more than 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) of assets as part of a probe into suspected fraud against troubled lender Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena , prosecutors said on Tuesday.

In a statement, prosecutors in the city of Siena said most of the assets to be seized were funds held by Banca Nomura International, the Milan branch of Japan's Nomura International <8604.T>.

The prosecutors said the Nomura seizure regarded 88 million euros of hidden commissions received by Nomura and 1.7 billion euros of funds deposited with Nomura by Monte Paschi by way of collateral for a loan.

Smaller sums were to be seized from former Monte Paschi chairman Giuseppe Mussari, ex-managing director Antonio Vigni and the former head of the finance department, Gian Luca Baldassari.

Prosecutors in the city of Siena where Monte dei Paschi is based are investigating losses linked to risky derivatives trades carried out under Monte dei Paschi's previous management.

Italy's No. 3 bank has been rocked by the scandal over the opaque derivatives which are connected with the costly 2007 acquisition of its rival Banca Antonveneta.

No comment was immediately available from Nomura, Mussari or Vigni.

Earlier on Tuesday officials from Italy's Guardia di Finanza financial police visited the headquarters of the Bank of Italy as part of the Monte Paschi probe, a person close to the matter said.

No comment was immediately available from either the Bank of Italy or Monte Paschi.

(Reporting By Silvia Ognibene; Writing by James Mackenzie and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Barry Moody and David Holmes)

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