updated 1/8/2004 4:25:39 PM ET 2004-01-08T21:25:39

Italian investigators formally placed two partners of Deloitte, the international accounting group, under investigation on Thursday as inquiries into the bankrupt Parmalat dairy group expanded further.

The investigators also extended their net to Luca Sala, a former Bank of America official, who resigned last summer. The bank has been closely involved in transactions for Parmalat, prompting investigators to look more closely at its operations in their search for the dairy group's missing $12.7 billion.

Parmalat's court-appointed administrator on Thursday formally dropped Deloitte as one of the group's auditors, following the move earlier this week to remove Grant Thornton, the other auditor.

In the latest bizarre twist to the global saga, magistrates in Parma placed under formal investigation Angelo Ugolotti, an obscure Parmalat employee whose duties involved overseeing the group switchboard.

Mr. Ugolotti appears to have been used as a front man on the board of up to 30 group subsidiaries, including Geslat, the Parmalat administrative services subsidiary closely linked to Buconero, a specialist off-balance sheet financing vehicle set up by Citigroup.

The Ansa news agency reported Mr. Ugolotti had no knowledge of his additional positions, and said he would now seek back pay.

Separately, Milan tax police raided the offices of both Deloitte and Grant Thornton regarding investigations into the bankruptcy of Cirio, a foods group controlled by Sergio Cragnotti. Mr. Cragnotti is a controversial financier who has conducted several transactions with Calisto Tanzi, Parmalat's founder, now in prison.

Meanwhile, Consob, the Italian stock market regulator, revealed that Mr. Tanzi had, last March, sought to quell analysts' probes into Parmalat's finances by demanding that it take legal against critical comments made by Lehman Brothers and others.

In Luxembourg, a magistrate said investigations had been opened into possible money laundering. The move followed probes opened this week in Netherlands, Brazil and Germany into various aspects of the Parmalat affair.

© The Financial Times Ltd 2013. "FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of the Financial Times.


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