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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
11 guilty in first Parmalat trial
Fausto Tonna, former finance chief of Parmalat
Fausto Tonna was accused of being at the heart of the Parmalat fraud
An Italian judge has given the first verdicts in the Parmalat scandal, finding 11 people guilty for their part in the collapse of the dairy firm.

A Milan judge handed down jail sentences of up to two-and-a-half years to the 11, including former finance chief Fausto Tonna.

Parmalat collapsed in 2003 with debts of almost 14bn euro (9bn; $19bn).

The scandal sent shockwaves through Italy where Parmalat was a household name and major employer.

The company was built up from a local, family-run delicatessen in Parma to become an international dairy firm with operations covering 30 countries and 37,000 staff.

Company founder Calisto Tanzi has been accused of market-rigging and false auditing and is facing his own trial after his attempts at plea bargaining were rejected.


Among the other executives found guilty on Tuesday were former chief financial officers Alberto Ferraris and Luciano Del Soldato, Mr Tanzi's brother and son Stefano, and members of an internal audit team.

Ferraris and Del Soldato replaced Tonna, who quit nine months before Parmalat collapsed. Tonna was accused of being at the heart of the company's attempts to hide debts and inflate profits.

The accused decided to cooperate with prosecutors and received reduced sentences in exchange for acknowledging wrongdoing in the dairy group's collapse.

However, the verdict in Milan comes as another investigation in Parma probes the company's accounts for signs of false book-keeping - accusations which carry stiffer jail terms.

The investigation in Milan focused on market-related crimes, such as attempts to mislead investors.

Over the weekend, a judge formally charged 16 executives and three financial institutions with market rigging and false auditing.

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