An Italian court has acquitted four banks of failing to take adequate steps to prevent Parmalat‘s fraudulent presentation of accounts that led to the dairy group’s 2003 EUR14bn (US$19bn) financial collapse.

The Milan court’s ruling draws to an end a three-year trial in which the prosecution alleged that the banks – Citigroup, Bank of America, Moargan Stanley and Deutsche Bank – and six of their employees misled investors to inflate Parmalat’s share price.
Some 135,000 investors lost the money they had invested in Parmalat’s corporate bonds.

The ruling was welcomed by statements from each of the banks, who have repeatedly denied wrongdoing throughout the preceedings.

“The Milan court’s judgement confirms unequivocally that Citi and its employees did not have any involvement in the execution of the most significant fraudulent bankruptcy in Italy,” Citigroup said.