Prosecutors find no case against Vivendi CEO
Issued on: Modified:
French prosecutors will recommend that all charges of alleged insider trading against Jean-Marie Messier, Vivendi Universal's former chief executive, and all other people under investigation be dropped.
REUTERS - French prosecutors investigating alleged insider trading at Vivendi Universal have concluded there is no case against Jean-Marie Messier, the former chief executive, judicial sources in Paris said on Friday.
The prosecutors are due to hand in their conclusions next week to an investigating magistrate, who will decide whether to pursue the case or drop it. The magistrate is likely to follow the advice of the prosecutors, the sources said.
The prosecutors will recommend that charges be dropped against Messier and all others who were under suspicion, including Warner Music Group Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman Jr.
The probe, which began in 2004, centres on events at Vivendi Universal during the tenure of Messier, who created the global entertainment giant through an acquisition spree from beginnings as a French water and sewage utility.
Messier, who once lived in an $18 million apartment in New York and attracted the sort of media attention usually reserved for rock stars, was ousted from Vivendi in 2002 as it came close to collapse under the mountain of debt he had built up.
The man whose nickname during his heyday was J6M -- "Jean-Marie Messier, me, myself, master of the world" -- was put under formal investigation in 2004 for issuing false or misleading statements about Vivendi's financial condition, stock price manipulation and improper use of company assets.
He was fined 1 million euros in 2004 by the French market regulator for "deceiving the public" about the state of Vivendi's finances at a time when it was already in trouble, in an investigation that was separate from the judicial one.
Messier's lawyer, Olivier Metzner, welcomed news that prosecutors had found there was no insider trading case against his client.
"It's excellent news after six years of investigation and the biggest press campaign waged against a company executive. The prosecutors consider that there was no criminal offence committed," Metzner told Reuters.
Warner's Bronfman was placed under formal investigation in February last year as part of the Messier probe. He was formerly a director of Vivendi and sold shares in 2002. Bronfman resigned from the Vivendi board in December 2003.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe