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ECB conducts audit on Italy's Monte dei Paschi - annual report

MILAN (Reuters) - The European Central Bank in January launched an audit on Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena to assess and manage the Italian lender's operating and legal risks, according to the bank's annual report.

The audit on the Tuscan bank, which was bailed out by the Italian government in 2017 with a precautionary recapitalisation of 5.4 billion euros (4.6 billion pounds), is still ongoing, the report added.

The lender also said that potential legal claims totalled 5 billion euros at the end of last year, of which 2.5 billion euros were classified as posing the biggest risk for the bank.

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; editing by Agnieszka Flak)