Italian court orders new trial for bankers in Parmalat scandal

Parma | Reuters — Italy’s top appeals court on Friday threw out jail sentences against prominent bankers Cesare Geronzi and Matteo Arpe in a case related to the country’s biggest corporate scandal, the 2003 collapse of dairy group Parmalat.

The Court of Cassation quashed the sentences handed down by a lower court in 2013 and ruled that the two former bosses at Banca di Roma will have to stand trial for a second time, according to a copy of the sentence seen by Reuters.

In June 2013 the appeals court of Bologna had sentenced Banca di Roma Chairman Geronzi to five years in jail and given a three-year-and-seven-month sentence to Arpe, the former chief executive.

The pair were convicted on charges of fraudulent bankruptcy in connection with the sale of mineral water company Ciappazzi to Parmalat in 2002. Neither has served any time in jail, as the legal process has dragged on for years.

Prosecutors said that, in return for a loan, Banca di Roma put pressure on Parmalat to buy Ciappazzi above the market price to help another of the bank’s clients.

A year later, Parmalat collapsed with a 14 billion-euro (US$17.2 billion) hole in its accounts, wiping out the savings of over 100,000 small investors. Several trials related to the collapse of the dairy group, now owned by France’s Lactalis, are under way.

Riccardo Olivo, a lawyer for Geronzi, said on Friday he was pleased with the ruling by the Court of Cassation.

Banca di Roma changed its name to Capitalia before being taken over by Italy’s biggest bank UniCredit in 2007.

— Reporting for Reuters by Valentina Accardo, writing by Valentina Za.



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