Newsline: Parmalat Case Goes Before Judge
As local competitors lined up to acquire assets from the far-flung operations of Italian dairy giant Parmalat last month, the crumbling company secured a $172 million loan, to help keep production running at its main operating unit.
Local courts in places as disparate as Hungary and Australia were busy deciding if and when parts of the company's empire could be sold, while in Italy, late last month a judge was deciding whether or not prosecutors had amassed enough evidence to put three institutions and 29 persons on trial.
The Parmalat scandal has been described as Europe's largest ever case of corporate fraud, and has already claimed the life of a corporate accountant who jumped from a rural bridge into a streambed.
At press time, a Milan judge was deciding whether to proceed with a fast-track trial that would see executives of the Bank of America and auditor Deloitte and Grant Thornton's Italian accounting subsidiary, Italaudit, in the dock.
Opting to skip potentially time-consuming preliminary hearings and to push for a trial as early as May demonstrates the confidence of prosecutors, who have gathered thousands of pages evidence during their three-month investigation into "Europe's Enron".
Parmalat founder Calisto Tanzi, 65, his son Stefano, his brother Giovanni and former chief financial officers Fausto Tonna and Luciano Del Soldato are among those accused of market rigging, falsifying audits and obstructing a market regulator.