The United States District Court for Southern New York has launched a programme to alert Parmalat investors between 1999 and 2003 of a US$50m partial settlement of the class action lawsuit about prices paid for Parmalat common stock and bonds.

The lawsuit alleges that Parmalat and other defendants participated in a fraudulent financial scheme to hide the financial difficulties plaguing the group. In stockmarket communications, Parmalat's debt was understated by US$10bn and assets were overstated by $16bn. When Parmalat did file for bankruptcy, the value of its stock plummeted dramatically, causing shareholders to lose out.

Several of the defendants, including Banca Nazionale del Lavoro S.p.A. (BNL), Credit Suisse Group, Credit Suisse, Credit Suisse International, and Credit Suisse Securities (Europe), have agreed to settle the case. The lawsuit will continue against Parmalat, various financial institutions and two auditing firms.