Parmalat employee kills himself

An employee in the finance department of scandal-hit Parmalat fell to his death from a bridge on Friday in what police said was a suicide.

    Calisto Tanzi is among 11 people arrested in the probe

    The man, identified as Alessandro Bassi, died in

    Rubbiano di Solignano, near the northern city of Parma.

    A source familiar with an investigation into a

    multi-billion-euro accounting hole at Parmalat said Bassi worked

    with two former finance directors of the food group, Fausto

    Tonna and Luciano Del Soldato

    .

    Bassi had been questioned this week, but was not one of at

    least 25 people being investigated. Prosecutor Vincenzo

    Picciotti said Bassi had not been linked to wrongdoings.

    "He was in position to give details useful for the

    investigation," Picciotti said. Bassi, in his 40s and married

    with two children, had not been due to be questioned again.

     

    In a note, Parmalat's administrator Enrico Bondi said he

    and the firm expressed their deep condolences to the family,

    who told reporters Bassi had been "distressed" by the scandal.

    A financial scandal has engulfed
    the Italian food firm

    Parmalat founder questioned

    Meanwhile, prosecutors questioned

    Parmalat founder Calisto Tanzi in hospital on Friday.

    Tanzi was taken from a Milan

    prison to the emergency room of a city hospital on Thursday

    after feeling tingling sensations that could be symptoms of

    cardiac problems, defence lawyer Fabio Belloni said.

    The former Parmalat chief was detained last month on a

    Milan street, and prosecutors have accused him of masterminding

    a web of fraud, market rigging and false accounting.

    Tanzi is among 11 people arrested in the probe. He was

    taken to Milan's San Vittore jail on 27 December and was moved

    to a clinic inside the prison earlier this month.

    Now 65, Tanzi previously had a heart by-pass operation.

    Belloni said his client, who on Friday was in the Milan

    hospital's neurosurgery wing, was "alternating between moments

    of calm and deep anxiety" but still wanted to be questioned.

    Diverted money 

    Judges have rejected requests for Tanzi to be moved to

    house arrest on the grounds he might flee or tamper with

    evidence.

    Tanzi has admitted to prosecutors that he diverted about

    500 million euros from publicly listed Parmalat and that the

    hole in its accounts might be about eight billion euros.

    Tanzi oversaw the expansion of Parmalat from a single milk

    plant in 1961 to becoming a globe-spanning foods group.

    Magistrates in Milan and Parma are trying to work out how

    Tanzi and others at Parmalat might have hidden for over a

    decade an accounting hole that investigators say could now

    exceed 10 billion euros.

    In another development, police in Milan searched the offices of Deutsche Bank, one

    of several banks that sold billions of euros in bonds for food

    giant Parmalat

    .

    Tax police have launched a
    worldwide investigation

    "We will continue to fully cooperate with Italian

    authorities," a spokesman for Germany's biggest bank said.

    Disgruntled investors

    Friday's swoop by finance police came after similar

    searches this week in Milan of the offices of US bank Morgan

    Stanley , a unit of Italy's biggest bank Banca Intesa, and

    ratings agency Standard & Poor's.

    Earlier this month the offices of Bank of America were

    searched and documents were taken from Citigroup.

    One of the prosecutors leading the probe, Francesco Greco,

    said on Friday no banks were officially under investigation.

    Investigations have also been launched

    in the United States, Luxembourg, Brazil and the Cayman

    Islands.

    Tens of thousands of Italians have complained to

    authorities that their investments, worth billions of euros,

    were all but wiped out by Parmalat's plunge into insolvency.

    Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government has started

    drawing up regulatory reforms, and his cabinet is

    discussing ways to protect investors.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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