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Erste says "dumb” traders, bank fraud caused loss on Bwin stock

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Erste Bank, Austria's second-biggest lender, said „dumb” traders were defrauded by a rival bank over trades involving shares of an online gambling company, triggering a write-off of Q3 losses.

Losses stemming from a trading dispute over Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG shares eroded profit by about €30 million ($38 million), CEO Andreas Treichl said today in London. The bank wrote off €75 million, the „highest possible damage” from the trade this quarter, CFO Reinhard Ortner said yesterday in a Web cast from London. Bwin is an Austrian online gambling company. „Two or three guys got involved in a settlement position with two banks and one client where, to put it rightly, they were really dumb,” Treichl told analysts at a meeting. „The reason why it is a legal dispute is because we have the position that at least one of the two other banks behaved in a fraudulent way.”

Austria's Gismo-Stiftung, a public foundation, is being probed by the country's financial markets regulator because of market manipulation involving Bwin shares, Vienna weekly magazine Format said August 17. Deutsche Bank AG, Privatinvest AG and Erste Bank AG were responsible for trading the stock, according to the magazine. Privatinvest spokesman Herbert Werkgarner yesterday declined to comment on the report. Deutsche Bank spokesman Patrik Fischer also declined to comment. Erste reported yesterday that Q3 net income increased to €200.6 million from €173 million a year earlier. (Bloomberg)

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