Bonelli Erede partner found guilty in Parmalat case

Sergio Erede, one of the founding partners of Italian heavyweight Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, has been given a 20-month suspended sentence for his role in the collapse of dairy company Parmalat.

Sergio Erede, one of the founding partners of Italian heavyweight Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, has been given a 20-month suspended sentence for his role in the collapse of dairy company Parmalat.

Erede was one of a number of former Parmalat executives sentenced yesterday (9 December) in a court in Parma, Italy, according to Italian press reports. Former chief executive Calisto Tanzi received an 18-year sentence after being found guilty of fraudulent bankruptcy and criminal association.

Parmalat collapsed spectacularly in 2003 after a €14bn (approximately £9.8bn) hole was found in the company’s accounts. Dubbed “Europe’s Enron” by many commentators the bankruptcy also wiped out the savings of hundreds of thousands of small investors.

Tanzi and other defendants were ordered to repay €2bn (£1.7bn) to the company as well as compensation to Parmalat’s creditors.

In total 15 Parmalat executives were sentenced to jail terms yesterday. Another two were acquitted.

Erede was a board member of Parmalat. He founded Erede e Associati in 1969 and the firm merged with Bonelli e Associati and Pappalardo e Associati in 1999. The 56-partner firm is now Italy’s largest, turning over €132m (£110m) in 2009 according to The Lawyer Euro100, and enjoys a ’best friends’ relationship with Slaughter and May.

Bonelli Erede Pappalardo managing partner Alberto Saravalle said: “The judgment relates to Mr Erede’s position as board member of Parmalat Finanziara from which he resigned some two and a half years prior to the bankruptcy of the Parmalat Group. While all other members of the board have been found guilty of wilful misconduct, Mr Erede has been found responsible for negligence and as such he has been handed a suspended sentence.

“We at Bonelli Erede Pappalardo are supporting Mr Erede and we very much look forward to his name being cleared in the appeal process. In the meantime, in relation to Mr Erede’s role at the firm it is business as usual.”