Monte Paschi says lost billions in deposits after February scandal

Customers' deposits at Italian bank Monte dei Paschi fell by "a few billion euros" after a scandal erupted in February over loss-making derivatives trades at the lender, the bank said in a document posted on its web site on Saturday.

Monte dei Paschi last week reported a higher-than-expected net loss for the whole of 2012 on the back of a rise in provisions for bad loans and 730 million euros in losses on the derivatives trades, which are at the center of a fraud.

But it has yet to make clear what impact the scandal itself had on its first quarter results.

"The illicit nature of the derivatives trades and their consequence on the bank's assets exposed the bank to reputational damage that was immediately translated into...the withdrawal of a few billion euros in deposits," the bank said in a document for shareholders attending its April 29 meeting.

The bank's chief financial officer said after the earnings were released on Thursday that it was "quick in recovering ground in March" on lost deposits in February.

"January started off well...we were somewhat impacted in February but we were quick in recovering ground in March," Bernardo Mingrone told analysts on a conference call.

But he declined to give a forecast on the level of deposits at the end of the first quarter of 2013 or to indicate the outlook for net interest income and loan loss provisions.

(Reporting by Jennifer Clark; editing by Naomi O'Leary and Patrick Graham)