[JURIST] Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] has ruled that Bank of America [corporate website; press release] may proceed with a counterclaim for damages of over $1 billion against bankrupt Italian dairy giant Parmalat SpA [corporate website; JURIST news archive]. In its counterclaim, Bank of America charges Parmalat and its former management with fraud, misrepresentation, conspiracy and other illegal acts. The bank charges that the lawsuit [JURIST report], filed by Enrico Bondi, the administrator appointed by the Italian government to oversee Parmalat in bankruptcy, is simply an effort to "shift the blame for Parmalat's demise from the true culprit — Parmalat itself — to victims of the fraud, such as Bank of America."
Parmalat filed for bankruptcy in December 2003, with about $17.3 billion in debt, after realizing there was a $4.9 billion discrepancy in its books. According to Bank of America, Parmalat owed it $647 million at the time of the company's bankruptcy, $462 million of which was unsecured. Calisto Tanzi [OpenFacts profile; JURIST report], founder and former chairman of Parmalat, is currently standing trial in Milan, along with 15 other former executives of the company. Bank of America said that statements by Bondi and testimony emerging in the Milan trial of the former Parmalat executives have shown that in the early 1990s, senior Parmalat officials began hiding losses and engaging in widespread fraud. Reuters has more. Milano finanzo has local coverage.