At a hearing last month, Tanzi again denied having orchestrated the collapse of his company, saying Parmalat's finances had been distorted by a "house of mirrors".

"I never created, I never with knowledge orchestrated a great fraud at the expense of investors," Tanzi told the court, blaming instead a series of operations involving various banks that sold the bad bonds.

Before its collapse, Parmalat had grown into an international conglomerate with operations in 34 countries.

After a relisting in 2005, the new Parmalat, headed by Enrico Bondi, its chief executive, began working to recoup billions of dollars from banks and other financial institutions.

Prosecutors had demanded 13 years for Tanzi.