Parmalat unit fires Grant Thornton

Parmalat Spa, a unit of the bankrupt Italian food and dairy group Parmalat will dismiss auditors Grant Thornton, Parmalat said today in a statement. No details were provided.

Grant Thornton had certified Parmalat's overall accounts until 1999 and continued to be responsible for those of several subsidiaries after handing over the parent group's books to Deloitte and Touche.

Among those retained by Grant Thornton was Parmalat's Bonlat Financial Corporation subsidiary in the Cayman Islands.

It was there that a growing scandal erupted when the Bank of America disowned the authenticity of a document certifying that Bonlat had 3.95 billion euros ($5 billion) of liquidity at December 31, 2002.

The former president of Grant Thornton's Italian office, Lorenzo Penca, is among at least eight people currently being detained in connection with alleged fraud that could amount to about 10 billion euros.

On Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that Deloitte Touche had accepted a memorandum from Grant Thornton concerning the amount in the Cayman Islands account instead of independently verifying its existence.

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