Fausto Tonna, Parmalat's former financial chief, has said the troubled Italian dairy company lost at least €350m-450m (US$442.6m-569.1m) per year between the mid-1990s and 2001.

Parmalat, which is being investigated after the discovery of a multi-billion euro hole in its accounts, reported total earnings of €926m from 1996 to 2001, reported the Financial Times.

Investigators are looking into claims that the Tanzi family, which controlled Parmalat, siphoned off money and put it into other family-owned businesses. However, investigators also suspect that much of the missing money was made up of accumulated losses that were hidden from investors.

Parmalat's losses are believed to have grown substantially during the 1990s due to the company's expansion in Latin America, the US and eastern Europe.

Tonna was arrested at the end of December as part of the Parmalat investigation, which has led to the arrest of seventeen others to date, including several members of the Tanzi family.

Meanwhile, Parmalat's Mexican unit has said it may be forced to cease operations if financial group Citigroup does not unfreeze its accounts by Monday, reported Reuters. Citigroup's Mexican arm Banamex froze Parmalat de Mexico's accounts last week, leaving the company unable to pay its suppliers.