Italy court convicts former Parmalat owner over fraudulent bankruptcy

[JURIST] A court in the Italian town of Parma on Thursday convicted the founder and former chief executive of dairy giant Parmalat SpA [corporate website; JURIST news archive], Calisto Tanzi [NNDB profile], for the company's fraudulent bankruptcy, sentencing him to 18 years. The court said that Tanzi and the 14 former executives sentenced with him will have to reimburse the company [AFP report], two billion euros. The executives must also compensate 30,000 defrauded investors around 30 million euros. Tanzi is expected to appeal the verdict, and the defense has blamed the banks that sold Parmalat bonds even when they knew that the group was insolvent. A trail examining the responsibility of Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America (BOA) [corporate websites] is currently underway in Milan.

Last July, BOA announced that it reached a settlement [JURIST report] with Parmalat in litigation stemming from its 2003 collapse. Under the terms of the settlement, BOA will pay Pamalat USD $100 million, which includes both cash and non-cash components. The settlement resolves a $10 million lawsuit filed by Parmalat against BOA in 2004 and a counterclaim [JURIST reports] filed by BOA, alleging the company engaged in fraud and is maliciously suing the bank to shift blame. The two companies filed a joint motion to stay proceedings [text, PDF], and further details of the settlement will become available once it has been filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website]. In December 2008, an Italian court in Milan in a separate case concerning stock market manipulation sentenced [JURIST report] Tanzi to 10 years in prison for his role in the company's collapse. Tanzi was the first executive to be sentenced in connection with the 14 billion euro fraud scheme in 2003 that bankrupted the company. He was convicted of fraudulent bankruptcy and criminal association for allegedly concealing the company's debt. Tanzi was indicted [JURIST report] along with approximately 20 other executives in July 2007. Parmalat filed for insolvency in December 2003 after discovering accounting discrepancies totaling nearly $5 billion in debt.

 

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