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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Parmalat auditors to stand trial
Parmalat milk
Parmalat products are found on most Italian breakfast tables
A Milan court has ruled that two former auditors of collapsed Italian food giant Parmalat should stand trial over their alleged role in the affair.

The pair, former Grant Thornton employees Maurizio Bianchi and Lorenzo Penca, face market-rigging charges.

They had asked to be tried under fast-track procedures in return for possible reduced sentences.

The court later adjourned before deciding whether 27 other accused individuals would also stand trial.

The case against Mr Bianchi and Mr Penca, the first executives to stand trial over the Parmalat affair, is expected to begin in January.

When the preliminary hearing resumes on 29 October, the court must decide whether 27 others, including Parmalat founder Calisto Tanzi, should face prosecution.

Under investigation

Also in the dock are three companies - the Italian offices of Bank of America and of audit firms Deloitte & Touche and Grant Thornton.

IN THE PROSECUTORS' SIGHTS
Calisto Tanzi, founder and ex-chairman
Stefano Tanzi, Tanzi's son
Giovanni Tanzi, Tanzi's brother
Two former Parmalat finance bosses
Bank of America Italian unit
Deloitte & Touche Italian unit
Italian ex-unit of Grant Thornton

They are accused of helping a group made up of senior Parmalat managers and a handful of external bankers and auditors to conceal the true state of the company's finances.

All three companies deny wrongdoing.

Bank of America said on Tuesday: "We are confident that this procedure will result in a finding that the facts do not support the administrative charge against Bank of America."

Tuesday's hearing was closely watched by Parmalat shareholders, including thousands of small investors, who lost money when the company went into financial meltdown.

"People here are pleasantly surprised, and I think quite impressed, that this is getting underway," the BBC's Rome correspondent, Guto Harri, told World Business Report.

"It is only 10 months since this huge firm - one of the biggest dairy firms in the world - collapsed."

Fall from grace

Parmalat was declared insolvent late last year after it emerged that 4 billion euros (2.8bn; $4.8bn) it supposedly held in an offshore account did not in fact exist.

The firm's demise sent shock waves through Italy, where its portfolio of top-selling food brands and its position as the owner of leading football club Parma had turned it into a household name.

Now run by court-appointed administrators, the company is attempting to sell off many of its foreign subsidiaries and reduce its workforce as part of a financial restructuring plan.

It has also launched multi-million euro lawsuits against its former banks, alleging that they turned a blind eye to irregularities in its books while its former management was in charge.

Prosecutors are seeking indictments against the following people and companies

Parmalat board members:

  • Calisto Tanzi, founder and former chairman
  • Stefano Tanzi, Calisto Tanzi's son
  • Giovanni Tanzi, Calisto Tanzi's brother
  • Fausto Tonna, former chief financial officer
  • Luciano Del Soldato, former chief financial officer
  • Domenico Barili
  • Francesco Giuffredi
  • Alberto Ferraris, former chief financial officer
  • Luciano Silingardi
  • Paola Visconti, Calisto Tanzi's niece
  • Piero Mistrangelo
  • Paolo Sciume
  • Enrico Barachini

    Internal auditors:

  • Mario Brughera, former chairman of the board of statutory auditors
  • Oreste Ferretti, replaced Mario Brughera on 16 December 2003
  • Massimo Nuti

    Parmalat SpA executives:

  • Giovanni Bonici
  • Gianfranco Bocchi
  • Claudio Pessina
  • Andrea Petrucci
  • Franco Gorreri

    Deloitte & Touche SpA:

  • Adolfo Mamoli
  • Giuseppe Rovelli

    Grant Thornton SpA (now Italaudit SpA):

  • Lorenzo Penca, chairman of Italian affiliate
  • Maurizio Bianchi, lead partner on the Parmalat audit

    Bank of America:

  • Luca Sala, former executive
  • Luis Moncada, former executive
  • Antonio Luzi, former executive

    Lawyer:

  • Gian Paolo Zini

    Prosecutors are also seeking indictments against:

  • Bank of America's Italian unit
  • Deloitte & Touche SpA
  • Grant Thornton SpA (now Italaudit SpA)


  • BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
    How Parmalat fell into billions of pounds of debt



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