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Italian police find Parmalat hidden masters

platItalian investigators made something of a coup this past weekend after repeated attempts to get at the assets from the Parmalat collapse, by seizing art and paintings valued at around £90m.

The works belonged to the group’s founder Calisto Tanzi.

The group has been nicknamed the Enron of Europe since its collapse in 2003 leaving behind debts that total up to 14 billion euro.  Parma police said they found the assets after a series of telephone intercepts were made.  One of the paintings discovered by police was about to be auctioned off.

The art included many famous works by Degas, Picasso, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Cezanne.   The artwork was all found in homes of the Tanzi family’s friends.

Chief Parma prosecutor, Gerardo Laguardia, stated that they have had some suspicions about certain people for a while, which is why they tapped the phone lines.  After further investigation they found that one of the Monet’s was involved in negotiations for sale.

Parmalat was the largest corporate bankruptcy in Europe’s history.  Its founder, Tanzi, is serving his ten years in prison after sentencing last year for his part in the fraud.

The company came back from bankruptcy in 2005 and is not run by the administrator Enrico Bondi.

Bondi has been searching for the lost assets to repay debts since the collapse, while also going after international investment banks that had a role in advising the company on bond issues.

The fraud affected about 100,000 shareholders in Italy who lost their life savings.

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