One of Europe’s biggest ever financial trials has opened in Milan. 18 people are in the dock in what has become known as the Parmalat scandal.
Amongst the accused, the founder of the Italian food giant Calisto Tanzi and more than a dozen other company executives. All face lengthy jail terms if found guilty.
They stand accused of market rigging – cooking the books in order to cover up huge losses. Parmalat, once Italy’s biggest food company, had interests ranging across the dairy and milk business.
The family-run firm grew rapidly into a global corporation with 36,000 employees in 30 countries. As the scandal emerged two years ago, the company collapsed with massive debts Thousands of investors lost their money.
The prosecutor says it was the biggest single example of fraud in Italy in a century. Since then the company has re-emerged but under strict supervision from state-appointed accountants.