1. How was it possible for Parmalat managers to “cook the books” and hide it for so long? Solution
Parmalat was able to cook the books mainly due to the fact that Italy has a low level of accounting transparency. The story began in 1997, when Parmalat decided to become a "global player" and started a campaign of international acquisitions, especially in North and South America, financed through debt. Soon, Parmalat became the third largest cookie-maker in the United States. But such acquisitions, instead of bringing in profits, started, no later than 2001, to bring in red figures. Losing money on its productive activities, the company shifted more and more to the high-flying world of derivatives and other speculative enterprises. Parmalat's founder and now former CEO Calisto Tanzi engaged the firm in several exotic enterprises, such as a tourism agency called Parmatour, and the purchase of the local soccer club Parma. Huge sums were poured into these two enterprises, which have been a loss from the very beginning. It has been reported that Parmatour, now closed, has a loss of at least EU 2 billion, an incredibly high figure for a tourist agency. The losses of the Parma soccer club are not yet fully known. Here, Parma insiders are pointing at what they call the "Medellín Cartel" connection—i.e., the purchase of overpriced Colombian soccer players, and other extravagances. While accumulating losses, and with debts to the banks, Parmalat started to build a network of offshore mail-box companies, which were used to conceal losses, through a mirror-game which made them appear as assets or liquidity, while the company started to issue bonds in order to collect money. The security for such bonds was provided by the alleged liquidity represented by the offshore schemes. The New York-based Zini lawfirm named by Robbins has played a role. Through Zini, firms owned by Parmalat have been sold to certain American citizens with Italian surnames, only to be purchased again by...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document