Calisto Tanzi builds a global dairy empire | Photo: Agence EFE
The founder of the Parmalat dairy group, Italian businessman Calisto Tanzi, died this weekend at the age of 83 in the city of Parma, Italy.
He had been hospitalized since mid-December with a lung infection unrelated to the coronavirus, and had previously been under house arrest for 17 years in prison for the Parmalat scandal – Europe’s largest fraudulent bankruptcy to date in 2003.
The giant of milk and dairy products was very present in Brazil until the beginning of the 2000s – in addition to capturing and industrializing billions of liters of milk, it marked an era by assuming the co-management of football in Palmeiras for nearly a decade, in the so-called Era Parmalat, which earned the club eleven titles, including Brazilian leagues, Brazilian Cups and Libertadores. At that time, names like Cafu, Djalminha, César Sampaio, Zinho, Rivaldo, Müller, Alex and Paulo Nunes paraded in the São Paulo club.
Born in the commune of Collecchio, in Emilia-Romagna, on November 17, 1938, Tanzi founded at the age of 22 a small dairy company which quickly became a powerful multinational, with 130 factories around the world.
Parmalat did not resist the billion euro scandal
From one of the most internationally famous Italian businessmen, he became the protagonist of Europe’s biggest financial fraud in 2003, when it was discovered that he had been falsifying the company’s accounts for years. years and had accumulated a hole of 14 billion euros. At the time, Parmalat employed around 36,000 people in 30 countries.
A suspension of payments was declared and the scandal affected more than 100,000 investors around the world who had purchased the company’s bonds.
The businessman then claimed that dozens of Italian politicians, including former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, had received company funds for years in exchange for favors in Parmalat.
Tanzi was sentenced to ten years in prison for fraud at first instance in 2008, and in 2011 the Bologna Court of Appeal sentenced him to 17 years.