French appeal court upholds Soros insider trading verdict

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The Independent Online

George Soros, the controversial US financier, was found guilty of insider trading by a French appeals court yesterday, which upheld a 2002 conviction and a €2.2m (£1.5m) fine.

George Soros, the controversial US financier, was found guilty of insider trading by a French appeals court yesterday, which upheld a 2002 conviction and a €2.2m (£1.5m) fine.

The ruling threatened to prolong the 16-year legal affair as Mr Soros's lawyers said they would appeal again.

The Hungarian-born billionaire had appealed against a French court's decision which found him guilty of using insider information regarding a failed 1988 corporate raid on the French bank Société Générale to make $2m (£1m) on the company's stock.

The financier-turned-philanthropist told the appeals court last month that he had not done anything wrong. He was not in the courtroom yesterday.

Mr Soros's lawyers said they would appeal against the case at the Cour de Cassation, the country's highest court. They said the case could take one to two years and then Mr Soros could file a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the 14 years it took to bring the case to court violated his right to a speedy trial.

Société Générale was privatised in 1987. Its shares rose the following year during an unsuccessful takeover bid. Mr Soros was accused of having obtained insider information before the failed raid drove up its share price. But he has denied this, saying the planned takeover bid was common knowledge in financial markets.

Lawyers for Mr Soros argued in 2002 that the case was too old to judge. It took 14 years to come to trial because of delays in securing information from authorities in the Netherlands, Britain, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Mr Soros, 74, is best known in the UK as "the man who broke the pound" for betting against sterling in 1992, until Britain pulled out of the exchange rate mechanism that preceded the introduction of the euro. His Quantum Fund made nearly $1bn by betting against the pound, but suffered huge losses in April 2000 after an ill-timed move into hi-tech stocks.

He is no longer actively investing and has turned his attention to charitable and political activities. Mr Soros is using his fortune to help tackle what he sees as the failures of a global financial market system which penalises poor countries.

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