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Italian financier Proto under investigation for market rigging: sources

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian financier Alessandro Proto, who has announced offers for stakes in some of Italy's top companies, has been placed under investigation for alleged market rigging, judicial sources said on Thursday.

Confirming media reports, the judicial sources said Milan prosecutors had placed the financier under investigation for alleged market rigging in relation to statements made by his consultancy firm Proto Organisation.

Proto denied he was under investigation for market manipulation.

"Proto is not under investigation in any proceedings about market rigging," his lawyer Francesco Rubino said on Thursday.

"All financial activities of the Proto Organisation have always been carried out with the utmost transparency and in conformity with market rules and Italian laws," he said in an email.

In a separate statement, Proto said he had not been notified of an investigation by prosecutors and that he would not let false accusations intimidate him.

"This is mud-slinging against someone who wants to do something for the country," Proto said.

Under Italian law, prosecutors do not need to tell people they are being investigated.

The judicial sources said Proto's past statements about his offers for stakes in Italian banks Monte dei Paschi di Siena and UniCredit , publisher RCS and car maker Fiat , were only partially true.

Prosecutors believe that Proto announced these offers without making clear that they had been immediately rejected, the sources said.

The sources said Proto was also being investigated for fraud in connection with separate deals, including real estate operations.

Earlier in November, market regulator Consob said Proto had not provided required information in relation to his role in an investment in RCS, the publisher of Italy's leading newspaper Corriere della Sera.

(Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro; Writing by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Emilio Parodi and David Holmes)

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