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Italy judge indicts Parmalat founder, former executives on fraud charges

[JURIST] An Italian judge Wednesday indicted approximately 20 former Parmalat SpA [corporate website; JURIST news archive] executives, including founder Calisto Tanzi [NNDB profile] and former CFO Fausto Tonna [BBC report], for their role in the collapse of the Italian dairy giant. The defendants, who are being charged with fraudulent bankruptcy and criminal association, allegedly concealed the company's debt of 14 billion euros (approximately $19 billion). Approximately 32,000 bondholders have joined the suit against the former officials as civil parties. If convicted, Tanzi, who blames banks for pushing the bond sales, faces up to 15 years in prison.

In June, an Italian judge indicted four banking giants [JURIST report] for not revealing to the market that Parmalat was not financially healthy. Parmalat filed for insolvency in December 2003 after discovering accounting discrepancies totaling nearly $5 billion in debt. Suits and counter-suits have been filed in both Italy and the US against a number of parties, including Citigroup and Bank of America [JURIST reports]. Bank of America is pursuing a counterclaim [JURIST report] against Parmalat, alleging the company engaged in fraud and is maliciously suing the bank to shift blame. In November, a US district judge directed the companies to seek a settlement [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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