Italian police have called one of the country’s top comedians in for questioning after it emerged he had made comments about a risk of bankruptcy at Parmalat before the food company’s financial scandal emerged.

Last week, footage of Beppe Grillo was shown on Italian television, showing the comic talking about Parmalat’s bankruptcy risk in a September 2003 performance.

Parmalat filed for bankruptcy in late December after revealing a several billion-euro hole in its accounts.

After talking to police, Grillo told Reuters about a dinner conversation he had had in 2001 with an unnamed Parmalat official.

“We talked about lots of companies and he told me: ‘Mention them all but don’t talk about us because our debts are only 13 trillion (lire) which is the same as revenues but compared with others we are princes,” Grillo was quoted as saying.