Hollywood’s newest financial wheeler-dealer, Italian Giancarlo Parretti, declined to comment Friday on a Business Week report of allegations that his “network of private foreign holding companies hide sophisticated money-laundering operations.”
However, the article said Parretti and his partner, Florio Fiorini, have denied the accusation, which was attributed to unnamed former partners of the two men. Last April, the pair took control of Cannon Group, a publicly traded Los Angeles film producer.
In an interview Friday at Cannon’s headquarters, Parretti said he will immediately put the matter into the hands of his lawyers. The press and public like to make a mystery of his wealth, he said with a shrug.
He said a top U.S. accounting firm audits even his European companies and he does business with “first-class banks.”
Laughing heartily, Parretti added that all this would indicate he is either “the biggest crook in the universe” or has nothing to hide. Although the interview was largely in English, that remark was one of several made in Italian and translated by an associate.
A chunky man who smiles easily, Parretti speaks in broken English, which an associate said he began teaching himself a year ago. He complained mildly that “no one gave me a medal” for saving Cannon.
Parretti has been making a big splash in Hollywood since January by launching a new U.S. movie firm, Pathe Entertainment, under leadership of Alan Ladd Jr., and agreeing to buy the faltering New World Entertainment. Until this week, he had been seeking to buy assets of De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings because of a long string of box-office bombs.
Meanwhile, Parretti has cemented a 3-month-old association with Dino De Laurentiis, who left the DEG helm months before it went into bankruptcy court and has since formed a private movie production firm. Parretti also has joined the Hollywood upper crust by buying an $8.9-million Beverly Hills residence.
Political Ties Alleged
Business Week gave no details of the allegations of money laundering. It said both men have been involved in “major financial scandals in Italy and elsewhere.”
“Associates and government officials say the two men built their fortunes from business deals arranged by high-ranking politicians, especially in Italy’s center-left Socialist Party,” the magazine said.
Parretti and Fiorini get the bulk of their funds from companies registered in Luxembourg and Panama, the article said. An Italian official alleged to the country’s commission on the Mafia that a Sicilian who sponsored Parretti in business about a decade ago “had links to at least one powerful crime family,” the magazine said.
Parretti, who said he was unaware of the Business Week article before the interview Friday, declined to discuss details of his life prior to about two years ago, when he and Fiorini began a financial rescue of Cannon Group, then led by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus.
However, he and Cannon attorney Fabio Serena said Parretti has been cleared of two criminal charges in Italy that Cannon disclosed in 1987 in a 10K annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Consequently, they said, the company’s 10K due at the end of March will not mention the two cases, which involved a soccer team and a newspaper, both in Sicily.
Parretti said that what Americans cannot understand is that 75% of defendants are cleared after being brought before Italian courts on criminal charges.