Financial Scandals and the Role of Private Enforcement: The Parmalat Case
Guido A. Ferrarini
University of Genoa - Law School; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
Free University of Bozen, Bolzano - School of Economics and Management; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
ECGI - Law Working Paper No. 40/2005
Coming shortly after the Enron and WordCom scams, the Parmalat scandal offers a good opportunity to compare failures on both sides of the Atlantic. In this paper, we start by tracing Parmalat's history and describe the frauds and the criminal proceedings and civil actions that followed the company's collapse both in Italy and the US. We then focus on Parmalat's governance and gatekeepers, and argue that gatekeepers are substantially undeterred in Italy because of poor enforcement rather than legislative black holes. In fact, law on books, in particular the civil law concerning auditors, is even more severe than common law. We subsequently analyse the causes of under-enforcement and the reasons why Parmalat generated litigation in the US rather than Italy. Drawing from economic analysis, we explain the role of private enforcement and consider the benefits of class actions. In this respect, we emphasize the importance of discovery and pleading rules. We also find that the interplay between public and private enforcement is missing in Italy and argue, by way of conclusion, that US securities regulation was transplanted into Continental Europe without sufficient modernisation as to civil procedure in the area of mass claims and complex litigation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 62
Keywords: corporate fraud, corporate scandals, Enron, Parmalat, directors, board of
JEL Classification: K22, K23, K41, K42
Date posted: May 27, 2005
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