A private entity for the public benefit that picks up where public agencies leave off
Fondazione Cariplo was established in December 1991 subsequent to the privatization and rationalization of Italy’s banking system under the “Amato-Ciampi” legislation.
The Constitutional Court in its sentence No. 300 of 2003 clarified and confirmed the legal status of Foundations with banking origin as private entities. It did so by defining them as “entities that organize social freedoms”, thus clearly positioning them in-between public agencies and the community of citizens. The purpose of the banking system reorganization, i.e., segregating banks from foundations and turning the latter into bank shareholders, became the means that allows foundations to fulfill their social purposes. Foundations of banking origin have thus the honor and the onus of filling a position, which hitherto has remained vacant in Italian society, unlike other countries in Europe and even more so in North America. The role of these foundations is to administer and manage significant assets in full autonomy, bound to pursue the public interest and independent of governments.
To do so, however, “public benefit”, as defined by the lawmaker, needs to be pursued through clear-cut objectives which leverage the specialist traits of these foundations, and, specifically, they have to pick up where public agencies leave off.