By  on October 18, 2010

MILAN — Mario Boselli, president of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, is being investigated in his role as president of Centrobanca (UBI Banca Group), one of Italy’s main banks specializing in investment and corporate banking, for participation in bankruptcy fraud in connection with the collapse of Mariella Burani Fashion Group.

The investigation is connected to the initial public offering that parent company Burani Designer Holding N.V. made of 15 percent of MBFG in 2008 and financing provided by Centrobanca. MBFG earlier this year pledged 66.4 percent of the company to Centrobanca.

“I am pleased that it is now possible for me to explain myself, what I did and especially what I didn’t do,” Boselli told WWD. “False and confusing information has been circulating, and now I can officially talk about this, I just hope it will all be done quickly, because these are disagreeable situations.”

Meanwhile, the trial of Walter Burani, founder of the company, and of his son, Giovanni, is set to start in Milan on Dec. 13. Some sources say the two men might request a plea bargain. However, one well-placed source, who declined to be identified, said the Buranis will not ask for a plea bargain because they never reached an agreement about the penalty. He described the case as one of the country’s “worst bankruptcies in 20 years.”

The source predicted “a fairly speedy trial,” since “everything is perfectly well-documented.” In addition, during the first interrogation, Giovanni Burani said “the accusations are fundamentally correct,” the source said. Given that, “there is limited space for surprises,” he said.

Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development granted bankruptcy protection to MBFG in March and appointed three administrators to manage the group, which was weighed down by debts of more than $600 million. In July, the Buranis were placed under arrest as part of a wider ongoing investigation into fraudulent bankruptcy. The arrests were requested by Milan prosecutors Luigi Orsi and Mauro Clerici, who have been investigating BDH for fraudulent bankruptcy.

Designer Matthew Williamson revealed earlier this week that he will unveil his first diffusion collection, Muse by Matthew Williamson, for fall 2011 as part of a new license agreement with MBFG, which is now under state-supported administration. The publicly listed MBFG has over the years held licensing agreements with firms such as Valentino, Calvin Klein, La Perla and Vivienne Westwood.

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