The fax marked 'confidential' gave the chairman clear advice: the questions he would field and, most important of all, the answers he would need.
Written in English by Gian Luca Baldassarri, then head of finance at Italian bank Monte dei Paschi, the July 7, 2009 fax told Giuseppe Mussari, the lender's chairman at the time, what he should say in a conference call with bankers from Japan's Nomura later that day.
It also indicated where power lay inside the Italian bank. Most staff at the bank's headquarters, a restored 14th-century fortress in Siena, viewed Baldassarri as the key influence in the institution, according to reports by internal auditors seen by Reuters and interviews with 10 senior bank sources.
The activities of the two men lie at the heart of a scandal that has ricocheted from the rolling hills of Tuscany right up to the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt.