The WPP Italia fraud probe, already focused on dismissed country manager Marco Benatti, has reportedly been extended to the agency's chairman Giovanni Bossi.

The investigation, conducted for WPP Group by US forensic accounting specialist Kroll, has allegedly uncovered 'irregular' payments to at least six clients and some media owners.

While Bossi, who not only chairs WPP Italia, is also managing director of Banca Ifis, an investment bank said to have had dealings with Mediaclub - a company bought by WPP in 2003.

Investigators are concerned that during negotiations for the acquisition, Ifis may have helped Mediaclub to boost operating profits via a legal but covert factoring deal, thereby enabling Mediaclub to reduce its debt burden

And in a thickening of the plot, WPP Italia's head office in Milan has been the recent victim of two mysterious break-ins - occurrences now under investigation by WPP security forces.

Meantime, Benatti has issued a statement proclaiming that his "behaviour has always been completely correct".

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff