"We cannot identify any payments - central or local - knowingly made to the Tanzi family or any other individuals," the company said in a statement released yesterday.
The private family-owned firm launched an internal enquiry following claims by a former Parmalat executive that the world's largest packaging group made payments directly to the accounts of Parmalat's owners, the Tanzi family. In testimony earlier this month, Fausto Tonna, the former Parmalat chief financial officer now under arrest, said that over seven years, some €70 million was paid to Parmalat in Tetra Pak discounts.
Jürgen Haglind, a spokesman for Tetra Pak, confirmed that discounting was normal practice, but said he did not know if his company returned cash under such schemes. He claimed that Parmalat, as a major customer for many years, benefited from marketing support and discounts on packaging material. The discounts to Parmalat, he said were similar to those that benefit other large customers.
According to an earlier Tetra Pak statement, average sales to Parmalat were €224.4 million per year between 1995 and 2003. On average, the discounts paid from central units were approximately €12.2 million per year during the same period, or an average about 5.4 per cent per year.
Tetra Pak claims that after reviewing the discounts given to Parmalat across 23 different countries, it can find no wrongdoing. "We have reviewed all transactions related to discounts and marketing support between the local Tetra Pak and Parmalat companies in these countries," said the company. "The review has covered the time period 1995 to 2003."
Tetra Pak has been inextricably linked to the astonishing growth of Parmalat over the last half-century. The Italian dairy giant was the first producer to use Tetra Pak's disposable cartons to package milk, and later became a pioneer of UHT (ultra-high temperature) milk, now packaged by Tetra Pak globally.