ROME, March 7 Italy's top appeals court upheld
stiff jail sentences handed down against a group of former
managers of Parmalat following the spectacular collapse of the
food group more than a decade ago, lawyers said on Friday.
The Corte di Cassazione trimmed a few months off the
sentences because one of the charges had expired under the
statute of limitations.
But it left former chief executive Calisto Tanzi, his
brother Giovanni, former finance chief Fausto Tonna, and Luciano
Silingardi, the ex-head of a local Parma savings bank, still
facing years in jail, Tanzi's lawyer Franco Magnani said.
"The court confirmed the appeals ruling almost completely,"
The sentences are among the harshest ever handed down for
white-collar crime in Italy, where corporate fraud cases
resulting in actual jail time are comparatively rare.
Parmalat, a pioneer in producing long-life milk and now
owned by France's Lactalis, sank in December 2003 after a
massive accounting hole wiped out the savings of more than
100,000 small investors in its highly-rated corporate bonds.
Tanzi, the 75-year-old billionaire who was Parmalat's chief
executive at the time, was found guilty on charges of fraudulent
bankruptcy and criminal conspiracy over what was then Europe's
biggest corporate bankruptcy.
The Corte di Cassazione cut five months off Tanzi's sentence
of 17 years and 10 months imposed by a lower court in 2012, and
reduced his brother's 10-and-a-half-year sentence by four
months. Silingardi's six-year sentence was reduced by three
The court also reduced Tonna's sentence of 9 years and 11
months by five months, but sent his sentence back to a lower
appeals court for a further ruling, meaning that for the moment
at least, he will not have to go to prison.
The scandal, one of the most spectacular in recent Italian
corporate history, erupted when the group revealed that a Cayman
Island bank account supposedly holding $4 billion did not exist.
Management sought bankruptcy protection, and prosecutors
launched a criminal fraud probe.
(Reporting by Valentina Accardo; Editing by Sophie Walker)