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Italian Government Meets on Parmalat Crisis - 2003-12-23

Italy's government meets Tuesday to discuss the burgeoning financial crisis at the giant debt-ridden, scandal-plagued food company Parmalat.

The company admitted last week that the Bank of America was not holding nearly $5 billion in funds from a Cayman Islands subsidiary that had been reported in September. The bank said a letter guaranteeing the funds was not authentic.

Italian prosecutors are investigating 20 people, including Parmalat's founder and three former company finance directors, for possible fraud and other charges related to the possible falsification of company documents.

Italian officials are expected to discuss ways to save Parmalat from collapse. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said he will do whatever it takes to save the food giant, which employs more than 36,000 people on five continents.

Parmalat officials will also meet today to discuss filing for bankruptcy.

Parmalat produces and sells milk, juice and other food products in Europe and the United States. The company also owns professional football (soccer) teams in Italy and Brazil.