Mario Nava, new chairman of Italy’s stock market regulator, has resigned after weeks of mounting political pressure from anti-establishment Five Star Movement and Northern League over his links to European institutions.
Mr Nava, a widely respected technocrat in Europe who was appointed by Italy’s former centrist reformist government of prime minister Paolo Gentiloni with the support of the European Central Bank and Brussels, in an unprecedented statement said he was leaving due to an “issue that is only political”.
It followed a joint statement issued by the heads of Italy’s upper and lower house political chambers which withdrew support for Mr Nava accusing him of being “incompatible with the presidency of an independent Italian authority” due to his longstanding links with “supranational institutions”.
In a one-page resignation letter, Mr Nava said: “Consob is independent but it cannot be isolated. Consob must be able to work with not only with the independent regulatory authorities, but also with political institutions”
The former European Commission technocratic added that after the letter from the anti-establishment parties, his aim to turn round the regulator and better “integrate it into various European and international systems” had met “an insurmountable obstacle”.
A person close to Mr Nava said he had been confronted not only with public attacks by anti-establishment politicians but also had faced internal opposition from political forces with the bureaucracy of the agency.
Mr Nava’s exit comes as investors in Italy are already rattled by the anti-EU rhetoric of Italy’s Five Star Movement and Northern League party.
It is likely also to raise concerns about supervision of Italy’s banking sector. Mr Nava had been appointed to strengthen supervision of financial institutions following Italy’s banking crisis which resulted two years ago in the partial nationalisation of Italy’s then third-largest bank by assets, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, and the failure of two large regional lenders in the Veneto region.
Italian regulators were deemed to have been slow in policing lenders after several cases of mismanagement arose forcing losses on institutional and retail investors.
The resignation of Mr Nava comes as Mario Draghi criticised Italy’s anti-establishment government. In a press conference after the central bank’s September meeting on Thursday, he said the words of the government had done “damage” as widening spreads had a knock-on effect on businesses and families.
Statements made by various government members over the summer attacking European institutions had raised concerns among investors about whether the anti-establishment government’s upcoming budget would put it on a collision course with Brussels.
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