20 Dec 2008

Prison term for Parmalat boss

2:07 pm on 20 December 2008

The founder of Parmalat, Calisto Tanzi, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud relating to the collapse of the dairy group.

Tanzi was accused of manipulating the share price, hindering auditors and helping with false accounting.

Parmalat collapsed in 2003 with a 14 billion euro ($US20 billion) hole in its accounts in what remains Europe's biggest bankruptcy.

Seven other defendants, including executives and bankers, were acquitted. Another eight defendants settled out of court in September.

More than 40,000 investors are seeking compensation for losses.

The BBC reports the court will now decide whether Tanzi should pay damages to them.

Parmalat was restructured and relisted on the Milan stock exchange in 2005 and is once again Italy's biggest market-listed food group.

The BBC reports Tanzi will probably not begin his jail term straight away because under Italian law the sentence of the Milan court must be confirmed first by an appeals court.

Tanzi is also a defendant in a separate trial under way in Parma, where he is accused of fraudulent bankruptcy.