Italian financial police have seized more than 700 million euros as part of a fraud probe into diamond sales involving the country's top four banks, local media reports.
Some 84 million euros were seized from Banco BPM and its subsidiary Banca Aletti, along with 35.5 million euros from Monte dei Paschi, 32 million euros from UniCredit and 11 million euros from Intesa Sanpaolo, Corriere della Sera reported.
Two diamond brokers, Intermarket Diamond Business (IDB) and Diamond Private Investment (DPI), were under investigation for allegedly using the banks to sell the cut stones for more than they were worth.
The seizure order concerned 253 million euros from DPI and 328 million euros from IDB.
The probe was launched after an Italian investigative programme in 2016 discovered that stones sold by IDP and DPI were being offered for twice the sum of comparable gems on the international diamond market listing Rapaport, the Corriere said.
The banks were making a considerable commission from presenting clients to diamond brokers, it said, adding that among those reportedly hit by the scam were celebrities including Italian singer Vasco Rossi.