How It Went Sour

The inside story of Parmalat, the biggest, most brazen corporate fraud in European history

For a hard-charging executive like Alberto Ferraris, being named chief financial officer of an $8.7 billion company was a career-making moment--and he wasn't going to let a few nagging doubts stand in his way. Since the company was Parmalat, the Italian dairy-and-food conglomerate that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged with perpetrating "one of the largest and most brazen corporate frauds in history," and since Ferraris, 46, now faces charges of market rigging and issuing false information, he may wish he had heeded those doubts. But back in March 2003, he says, he knew the company had some financial...

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