The truth about Guzzetti

By Luciano Terreri

For more than three months, almost daily, the press, with the praiseworthy exception of a few newspapers, has devoted ample space, in enthusiastic terms, to Giuseppe Guzzetti, on the occasion of the conclusion of his mandate as President of the Cariplo Foundation and Acre after more than two decades. Respect for the truth, which should always prevail, requires that light is shed on some incontrovertible facts that radically contrast with what is communicated about the character. Guzzetti, who rightly does not want to be defined as a “banker”, is more than anything else a member of the Christian Democrats, awarded, at the end of his political career, the office of President of the Cariplo Foundation, obtained, therefore, not for merit or specific expertise in the financial or banking field, nor previous philanthropic activities of great importance.

He is defined as the “creator” of foundations of banking origin, when, instead, Giuliano Amato is the true creator, to whom we owe the merit of having separated the financial and social soul of the Savings Banks. The spirit of his law was to ensure that foundations left the banks and that politics left the foundations. The failure to implement the spirit of the “Amato” Guzzetti law was the real protagonist, ensuring that almost all the foundations associated with Acre did not leave the capital of the banks and continued to maintain a qualified political representation in the bodies of the members, thus leading them to the dramatic situation in which almost all are now. Thus, rather than being a “creator”, he was the “destroyer” of foundations.

The alleged assertion that the independence of the foundations before the “Tremonti” law was the merit of Guzzetti, clashes with the timing with which some foundations, before Acre, decided to undertake judicial opposition to the “Tremonti” law, when he had decided to publicize them. In fact, before the Constitutional Court, the foundations presented themselves separately, with different defensive lines, some more conciliatory, such as those of Acre, others more intransigent about the defense of the private nature of the foundations, such as those of associative origin. The constant acquiescence towards the requests of the State and the Bank of Italy, which has characterized Acre’s line of action under the guidance of Guzzetti, has meant that the foundations have never ceased to support the banking system in difficulty, and have joined substantially public bodies, in contrast to the dictates of the ruling of the Constitutional Court, such as the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (a transaction that was also wrong financially, given that the conversion of preference shares into ordinary shares cost the foundations 750 million euros), or have intervened in transactions outside their mission, such as that of the Atlas Fund, which was also destined to rescue banks in difficulty, but without success.

In short, it does not seem to us that Guzzetti can be defined as a “creator” or “defender” of foundations, neither a banker, nor a man of finance, nor a savior of welfare, despite the almost daily celebrations that clash with good taste. It seems to us, however, that he has done much to do exactly the opposite of what would have been right and appropriate to do. Moreover, if we look carefully at his management as President of the Cariplo Foundation, so praised, we can see that it, with almost 8 billion of assets, has distributed, in over twenty years, 2.8 billion, and presented two budgets in deficit, while others, with much lower assets, have disbursed more in proportion. Since Guzzetti’s term of office expires on 27 May, and it is not known how many other clerks he is planning, unlike his fellow presidents who have left office within two weeks, it is suggested that he should conclude his term of office in a more sober manner.