Calisto Tanzi, the founder of Italian dairy group Parmalat now controlled by France’s Lactalis, is in a Parma hospital in a serious condition, his lawyer Giampiero Biancolella said on Monday.
The 73-year-old Tanzi was running Parmalat when the group went bankrupt in 2003 in a scandal dubbed “Europe’s Enron”, in reference to the former firm at the centre of the largest corporate collapse in U.S. history.
Parmalat, one of Europe’s biggest financial scandals, buckled in 2003 under a €14-billion ($18.50-billion U.S.) hole in its accounts, wiping out the savings of over 100,000 small investors, including pensioners.
Mr. Tanzi, once one of Italy’s leading businessmen, was sentenced in December 2010 to 18 years imprisonment on charges of fraudulent bankruptcy and criminal conspiracy.
Mr. Tanzi, who has suffered from heart problems in the past, had been in prison since last May, after a separate 10-year sentence received for market rigging had been commuted to eight years.
From a single pasteurization plant opened in 1961, Mr. Tanzi built Parmalat into a global food group via a string of acquisitions worldwide, many of them in the 1990s.
Mr. Tanzi also invested family cash in high-profile businesses ranging from holiday villages to top-flight soccer club Parma, appointing his children to run many of them.