The chairman of the Italian first-pillar fund for journalists, Istituto Nazionale di Previdenza dei Giornalisti Italiani (INPGI), is under investigation by Italian authorities as part of an inquiry concerning Sopaf, an investment company accused of defrauding three casse di previdenza.

Italian prosecutors are tyring to establish whether Andrea Camporese, chairman of the €1.5bn journalists’ cassa di previdenza, was involved in a deal that allegedly saw Sopaf make an “illicit profit” from the sale to INPGI of stakes in Fondo Immobiliari Pubblici (FIP), a state-backed real estate fund.

At the beginning of 2009, INPGI made a €30m investment in FIP, with a price of €133,333 per share, a significant discount on the fund’s NAV at the time.

The mechanism of the alleged fraud is yet to be made clear, although, according to Italian media, Sopaf may have reached an agreement on the price of the sale of FIP stakes to INPGI before actually buying the securities from another provider.

In total, prosecutors speculate Sopaf may have profited €7.6m from the sale.

The other alleged victims of Sopaf’s fraud were Enpam, the doctors’ fund, and CNPR, the accountants’ fund.

Camporese, who is also chairman of Adepp (Associazione degli Enti Previdenzali Privati), the umbrella association for casse di previdenza, has denied any wrongdoing, saying the operation was run in a fully transparent way, and pointing out that the investment had performed well.

The investigation will try to determine whether the profit generated for Sopaf within the operation was actually illicit.  

Meanwhile, Italian media have begun unveiling details on the matter, pointing out that, for two years, Camporese held a consulting role at Adenium Sgr, an asset management company controlled by Sopaf.

Also, last week it was announced that Paolo Saltarelli, former chairman of the accountants’ cassa di previdenza, CNPR, had been arrested for receiving a bribe from Sopaf.

The company is accused of embezzling €52m of CNPR assets.