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Business • January 11 2004

Defending Parmalat’s companies in Malta

At the centre of the Parmalat Malta connection would seem to be the company Parmalat Capital Finance Ltd, a company whose directors are under arrest in Italy and some of whom have already admitted to falsifying accounts figures.
Several articles appearing in the international press indicated that this company was used to carry out dubious transactions with other Parmalat subsidiaries.
PCFL director Fausto Tonna, interrogated in Italy is on record stating about the Parmalat group that "Four times a year, the system of putting together false documents was activated on the occasion of the four balance sheet operations that the company had."
In Malta, director Dr Ian Stafrace, who shares a legal firm with former Labour deputy leader George Abela, told MaltaToday that since the Parmalat companies came to Malta: "everything was "above board, and conducted in good faith."
The Malta Financial Services Authority, Prof Joe Bannister echoed Stafrace: ""I wish to confirm that - on the basis of the information available to the MFSA to date - it results that the substantial transactions being mentioned in the international media were carried out before the Parmalat group started to establish a presence in Malta.
"The company known as Bonlat, where a serious forgery of a bank statement is alleged to have occurred, is not a Maltese company, but was set up in the Cayman Islands. The forgery too pre-dated the Group's presence in Malta."
Parmalat Capital Finance Ltd was audited by Deloitte and Touche’s Edward Camilleri for the year ended 2002, and Camilleri would not confirm whether the company was under investigation. He limited himself to telling MaltaToday: "We have, of course, been co-operating with enquirers appropriately and shall continue to do so."
PCFL was set up in the Cayman Islands and was brought to Malta in April of 2002. Camilleri confirmed however that: "Parmalat Capital Finance Limited has been placed in provisional liquidation by Court order in the Cayman Islands, where it is registered."
According to the accounts: PCFL "was incorporated in the Cayman Islands on 24 October 1997. On 31 March 2002, the directors resolved, with effect from that date, to transfer the management and control of the company to Malta."
Asked whether he was aware of any investigations by a US firm, following allegations reported in The Malta Independent Camilleri replied: "we are not aware of the investigations by Zini & Associates which you refer to."
Quizzed about possible dubious transactions prior to PCFL arrival in Malta, Camilleri said: "we have no knowledge of dubious transactions that may have taken place prior to the registration in Malta of the Parmalat companies audited by us."

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