A court in Italy has sentenced the former head of the Parmalat food conglomerate to 18 years in prison in one of Europe's biggest ever fraud cases.
Calisto Tanzi, who was also Parmalat's chief executive, was found guilty on charges of fraudulent bankruptcy and criminal conspiracy in the main trial in the northern Italian town of Parma in connection with the scandal dubbed "Europe's Enron," in reference to the former firm at the center of the largest corporate collapse in US history, Deutsche Welle reports.
Prosecutors had asked for a 20-year jail term for Tanzi for his role in the scandal, which destroyed the savings of some 135,000 people, left a gaping 14 billion-euro hole in the company's finances and destroyed the image of a top Italian business.
"I did not expect such a severe sentence," said Calisto Tanzi, commenting on the verdict in a statement delivered by his lawyer, Giampiero Biancolella.
In an earlier trial, Tanzi, 72, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stock market manipulation and giving false information to Italy's stock market regulator Consob. The verdict was confirmed in May following an appeal, Adnkronos International English reports.