In what is being termed Europe’s own “Enron scandal”, the trial of the founder of the Italian dairy conglomerate,Parmalat is due to start in Milan.
Calisto Tanzi and 15 others are accused of artificially boosting Parmalat’s share price and false accounting in order to cover-up massive financial losses. Last June,jail sentences of up to two-and-a-half years were handed down to 11 Parmalat executives including the former finance chief, Fausto Tonna. Several members of the Tanzi family have been implicated in the scandal which lead to Parmalat’s collapse in 2001. Tanzi’s brother and his son Stefano have already been found guilty, receiving reduced sentences in exchange for acknowleding wrong-doing. Calisto Tanzi, who is aged 66, founded Parmalat after taking over a family salami business. The company expanded rapidly, growing into a global giant with 36,000 employees in 30 countries. Tanzi, who filed for bankruptcy after the scandal broke, faces up to five years in prison if found guilty. Three financial institutions including the company’s auditors are also being charged with helping Parmalat mislead investors.