Parmalat, the bankrupt Italian dairy company, is seeking damages of up to $10bn (£5.5bn) from auditors Grant Thornton and Deloitte & Touche.

Parmalat has accused its former auditors of fraud, theft, malpractice and negligence, according to newspaper reports. The lawsuit alleges the firms helped Parmalat’s former management to deceive investors about the actual level of the company’s assets and liabilities before its collapse at the end of last year.

The company said in a statement yesterday that is was targeting financial institutions believed to have played a role in Parmalat’s collapse,