ROME, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Italian Banking Association (ABI) on Thursday appointed Antonio Patuelli, chairman of the bank Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna, as new chief to succeed Giuseppe Mussari, the former head of Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) who resigned amid a financial scandal.
Patuelli, 61, is an agricultural entrepreneur, journalist and bank official born in central Italy's Bologna. He has a master degree in law and served a six-year-term in parliament until 1994.
"We believe in an economy subject to ethics and law. If an operation is permissible by law but is contrary to ethics, it should not be carried out," he was quoted as saying by local media as he gave his inaugural speech.
Patuelli said that he would work for banks "absolutely independent, distant and distinct from the political world and from any risk of interference and conflict of interest."
Mussari, a 50-year-old lawyer, stepped down last week after it emerged that shady derivatives deals conducted before he left the helm of Italy's third largest lender last year had led to losses of hundreds of millions of euros. He denied any wrongdoing.
A court in Rome said on Thursday that it had called senior officials of the Italian central bank, which supervises the country's banks, to report on the situation at troubled MPS.
Procurators said that they wanted the officials to provide "documents of clarification" about plans to obtain a loan of 3.9 billion euros (5.2 billion U.S. dollars) of state aid, after an investigation was opened into the supervisory actions of both the central bank and market watchdog Consob.
The MPS issue was dragged at the center of electoral campaign ahead of Feb. 24-25 vote because the Tuscan bank has traditionally been controlled by the Democratic Party (PD), which is leading the center-left coalition that is favorite to win election.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti, who was criticized in the case after his technocrat government authorized the bailout for MPS, said that he was vowing to "clear up" the situation but ruled out that the bank was in danger of collapse.
On Thursday, the outgoing prime minister reaffirmed that banks and politics should be kept "far from each other," referring to the fact that Italy's most important lenders were controlled by major political forces for generations.
Founded in 1472 and still the oldest commercial bank in the world, MPS had already been crippled by a high percentage of bad loans and a series of downgrades from international ratings agencies.