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UBS denies Parmalat investigation

The Parmalat affair is having wide repercussions Keystone

Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, has denied it is under formal investigation by Italian authorities over the collapsed dairy giant, Parmalat.

This content was published on February 10, 2004 - 19:35

Tuesday’s statement follows reports that UBS and five other international banks were being investigated for possible market rigging in connection with the Parmalat affair.

“We have no knowledge of a formal investigation into UBS or any of our employees,” said Mark Branson, the bank’s chief spokesman.

Last week the bank’s Milan offices were raided by Italian investigators reportedly seeking documents relating to a Parmalat bond issue in 2003 of more than €400 million (SFr628 million).

Wuffli said on Tuesday that the bank had no knowledge of Parmalat’s deep financial troubles at the time it purchased the bond – five months before the group fell insolvent.

“With hindsight it’s always easy, but if you looked at Parmalat just a few months ago it was a decent dairy company,” he said. “It did not look like a junk company at all.”

Wuffli said UBS had not incurred any material losses from Parmalat, in part because it had hedged its exposure to the dairy group.

Money-laundering investigation

Meanwhile, four officials from the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office were in Milan on Tuesday as part of a money-laundering investigation launched by Swiss authorities in connection with the Parmalat scandal.

Last week Swiss investigators said four Italian citizens were under suspicion and several bank accounts held in Switzerland had been frozen.

Andrea Sadecky, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, said the officials were holding informal discussions with Italian counterparts. She added that Switzerland had not made a formal request for legal assistance from Italy.

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.

Parmalat filed for bankruptcy protection in December after it was revealed that billions of euros in company funds had gone missing.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

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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