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Poste Italiane holds less than 10% of seized tax credits

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By Giuseppe Fonte

ROME (Reuters) -Poste Italiane holds less than 10% of the 2.3 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in tax credits offered for building refurbishment that have been frozen by Italy's tax police, a document presented to parliament and seen by Reuters showed.

In an attempt to ease fears over its level of exposure, Poste said in the document that less than 3% of the tax credits it had bought had been seized, against a 7% average for other financial institutions involved.

Under a popular scheme introduced in 2020, the Italian government pays an eye-watering 110% of the cost of turning buildings green, from insulation to solar panels to replacing old-fashioned boilers and window fittings.

People are allowed to sell the tax credits to companies or financial institutions.

But concerns over potential fraud have seen a brake put on the distribution of funds, raising concerns about the impact on Poste and the banks that have bought the tax credits.

"Poste can only be considered an injured party by such a type of conduct and should not be penalised for offences for which no responsibility can be attributed to it," the state-owned group said in the document.

As of the end of December, tax credits totaling around 38 billion euros had been sold, according to Italy's tax agency.

Poste Italiane holds some 20% of the overall tax credits sold, according to the document, or less than 8 billion euros.

The government is expected to approve on Friday a series of measures aimed at fixing problems connected with the sale of the tax credits.

As part of the package, Rome plans to set a cap of three sales for the tax credits, seeking to prevent fraud relating to work never done, as criminals try to hide fraud through a chain of sales.

It is also considering criminal sanctions in order to punish architects and technicians making false certifications, government sources said.

Rome is also expected to allow Poste and banks to continue using the tax credits for their full duration after the seizure is lifted.

($1 = 0.8795 euros)

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Keith Weir and David Holmes)

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