MILAN (Reuters) - The board of Monte dei Paschi di Siena unanimously backed the reply given by the bank to former industry minister Corrado Passera, who withdrew an alternative rescue plan for the lender accusing it of obstruction, Monte dei Paschi's chairman said.

In a statement on Tuesday after Passera dropped his proposal, the bank said it regretted Passera's decision but added the claims he made were groundless and incompatible with the bank's duty to guarantee all investors a level playing field as regards data access.

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro)