updated 3/19/2004 10:01:12 AM ET 2004-03-19T15:01:12

Bank of America has denied wrongdoing in the near-collapse of Parmalat, saying efforts by authorities to put the bank on trial is not supported by facts.

Prosecutors in Milan asked a judge Thursday to indict the bank, saying it must have been aware of the real state of the Italian dairy giant's finances well before the scandal exploded late last year. They also requested indictments against three former Bank of America employees — as well as 26 other people, including the company's founder, and two accounting firms allegedly involved in the fraud.

"We do not believe that the proposed charges against our company are supported by the facts, and we will defend ourselves vigorously," Bank of America said in a statement late Thursday.

Bank of America said the prosecution indictment requested cited "administrative liability arising out of the actions of former employees who allegedly committed illegal acts."

The statement identified the three former employees as Luca Sala, Antonio Luzi and Luis Moncada.

Sala, the former head of corporate banking for Bank of America's Italian branch, has been under investigation since January. He worked for Bank of America's Italian branch until he resigned last summer and joined Parmalat as a consultant.

Moncada, a senior Milan executive, and bank employee Luzi were placed under investigation earlier this month. They resigned after receiving notification by Italian authorities that they were being investigated.

The indictment request targeted a total of 29 people. In addition to the Bank of America officials, the prosecutors are seeking to put on trial Parmalat's founder Calisto Tanzi and other top former executives.

Also targeted in the request were the two companies that audited Parmalat books, Deloitte & Touche SpA and the former Italian branch of Grant Thornton.

The indictment request was the first since December, when Parmalat acknowledged that it didn't have 3.95 billion euros ($5 billion) it had claimed was in a Bank of America account. Soon after, Parmalat went into bankruptcy protection.

An audit ordered after the scandal broke recently put the company's debt at about $18 billion — eight times more than Parmalat had claimed in September.

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