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UBS offices searched in Parmalat probe

UBS is one of seven foreign banks under investigation by Italian police Keystone

The Milan offices of the Swiss bank, UBS, have been raided as part of a probe by Italian prosecutors into the dairy giant, Parmalat, according to judicial authorities.

It is the latest in a series of searches carried out at international financial institutions with links to the scandal-hit Italian company.

A judicial official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said police had been sent to confiscate documents relating to a Parmalat bond issue in 2003 of over €400 million (SFr628 million).

The official would not say whether the bank was under suspicion.

A UBS spokesman in London confirmed that the bank had “put together” a bond offering for Parmalat last year.

“We can confirm that Italian investigators have visited our offices in Milan in connection with the investigation into Parmalat,” said UBS spokesman, Dave Walker.

“We are cooperating fully.”

Monte Carlo

A day after the raid in Milan authorities in Monte Carlo seized another bank account, which has been traced to a jailed Parmalat financial executive.

Reports say the account with Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second biggest bank, contains about SFr2 million and is in the name of Fabrizio Rust.

But investigators suspect that the name the account was registered in is fake and say it is traceable to Luciano del Soldato, a former Parmalat financial executive.

Prosecutors in recent weeks have taken documents from several financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank and Bank of America. None of them has yet been accused of any wrongdoing.

Ten people are under arrest and at least 28 are under investigation in the case.

Parmalat filed for bankruptcy protection in December after it was revealed that billions of dollars in company funds were missing.

Money laundering

Earlier this week, the Swiss prosecutor’s office said it was investigating cases of possible money laundering in connection with Parmalat.

The office said four Italian citizens were under suspicion and several bank accounts opened in Switzerland had been frozen.

On Saturday, the Federal Banking Commission confirmed it was investigating links between Geslat, a Swiss subsidiary of Parmalat, and the Swiss financial group, Credito Privato Commerciale.

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Revelations in December of a huge accounting scandal at Parmalat shocked markets.

Italian investigators in Milan and Parma are questioning executives and the firm’s accountants to try to shed light on the multibillion-euro holes in its accounts.

Ten people are currently under arrest, including the former chief executive, Calisto Tanzi.

Prosecutors say Parmalat’s top management routinely misled markets, faked bank documents and inflated revenue for over a decade.

They are looking into whether banks knew about the firm’s financial situation when they sold bonds to the market.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR