Prosecutors begin inquiry into Lazio shares

May 30, 2006

MILAN, May 30 (Reuters) - Milan prosecutors have opened an inquiry into possible market-rigging involving shares of Lazio and are investigating two investors in the Serie A club for possible crimes, judicial sources said on Tuesday.

The inquiry is the latest news to rock Italian soccer which is already in shock after a probe into possible match-fixing involving the country's most powerful club Juventus.

The sources said magistrates were investigating Lazio chairman and main shareholder, Claudio Lotito, and the second-largest shareholder Roberto Mezzaroma for possible obstruction of market regulators in separate probes in Milan and Rome.

Lazio, Lotito and Mezzaroma were unavailable for immediate comment.

Rome-based Lazio averted bankruptcy in March 2005 thanks to a last-minute deal with tax authorities to extend a deadline for payments due.

Tax police searched the houses of the two investors and Lotito's company Lazioevents, which owns nearly 30 percent of Lazio, said one of the sources.

The inquiry into market-rigging relates to a 2005 transaction involving a 14 percent stake in the club.

Shares in Lazio closed down 3.12 percent at 0.31 euros following news of the investigations.