Corporations & securities brief ~ First Parmalat trial begins

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's corporations and securities brief,The trial of two former Parmalat [corporate website] auditors, Maurizio Bianchi and Lorenzo Penca, who both worked for auditing firm Grant Thornton, began today in Milan, Italy. This is the first trial since the massive fraud scandal at the dairy giant came out. The two are charged with market rigging, providing false accounting information and blocking the work of the Italian stock market regulator. Another Italian judge is still deciding on indictment requests for 27 other people including former Parmalat chief executive Calisto Tanzi. AP has more.

In other news...

  • Despite years of financial struggles, SBC Communications Inc. [corporate website], the nation's second-largest regional phone company, is in talks to buy AT&T Corp. [corporate website] for at least $15 billion. AP has more.

  • The New York Stock Exchange [official website] Chief Executive John Thain announced the exchange is in talks with its members to extend its hours to make it more attractive to European investors. Thain also supported comments [text] made by SEC Chairman William Donaldson [SEC biography] that the SEC would consider giving foreign companies more time to meet the deadline for reviewing their internal accounting controls. AP has more.

  • As previously reported on JURIST's Paper Chase, Riggs Bank [official website] has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges and agreed to pay $16 million. The charges stem from the bank's handling of finances for diplomats and foreign officials, including former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Riggs was implicated in a report on money laundering and foreign corruption [text, PDF] last summer by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs. Bloomberg has more.

  • The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] has ruled that a federal judge may have been too generous when he awarded more than $31 million in fees to the lawyers who reached a $126 million settlement in a class action suit related to accounting frauds at Rite Aid Corp. Read the opinion [PDF]. Law.com has more.
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