New Parmalat fraud trial hearings set to start

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Parmalat Calisto tanzi

Italian prosecutors are set to launch proceedings against former Parmalat executives accused of fraudulent activities that led to debts of €14bn and the company's collapse in 2003.

Proceedings examining responsibility for Europe's largest corporate failure are set to start on Monday in Parma, Parmalat's home town, according to the Associated Press, looking at why the company accrued debts of €14bn after lying about available cash reserves.

64 people at risk of fraud charges include Parmalat founder and former ceo Calisto Tanzi, who originally stepped down in 2003 as it became clear that Parmalat's cash assets couldn't meet looming deadlines with creditors, and cfo Fausto Tonna.

Although the case is just one of several against former Parmalat executives, auditors and financial advisors, since the charges allege fraudlent bankruptcy and criminal association, they carry severe penalties, including up to 15 years in prison.

The trial is not expected to start until the autumn, with 3 days have set aside for a closed-door preliminary hearing beginning on Monday, but the process could take months as some defendents are expected to seek pre-trial agreements.

Today Parmalat - now relisted on the Italian stock exchange and a subsidiary of French multinational Lactalis - dismissed media reports that it was planning to sell its Santàl-branded juice business for around €200m as "completely unfounded".

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