The Parmalat Syndrome

How U.S. financial firms -- including Bank of America -- allegedly abetted a multibillion-dollar fraud, and how U.S. regulators are letting them get away with it

If Parmalat hadn't failed to make its December 2003 loan payment, and therefore hadn't found it necessary to gin up a phony $4 billion bank statement, it might still be ripping off investors today, without any institution in place to stop it.

From a certain perspective, there's a bright side to this global regulatory failure.

The myriad, allegedly fraudulent transactions that fueled Parmalat's worldwide growth from the mid-1990s to late 2003 involved hundreds of perpetrators, collaborators, and victims in dozens of banks, accounting firms, and law firms. These purported scams were carried out steadily over nearly a decade, incorporating people, bank accounts, and shell firms around the world.

Perhaps the blind eye American regulators have turned on the U.S. nerve center that aided the Parmalat fraud is a perverse kind of jobs program. A jobs program for the Bush era.

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