Former Vivendi Universal executives Edgar Bronfman, Jr. and Jean-Marie Messier have been found guilty in Paris of criminal charges relating to misleading investors and insider trading. Ending a trial that began in June 2009, Bronfman, who at the time was Vivendi’s vice-chairman and now serves as CEO of Warner Music, received a suspended sentence of 15 years and a fine of $6.7 million related to insider trading. Messier received a suspended sentence of three years and a fine of $204,000 for charges that included misleading investors. He was found not guilty of a charge of manipulating share prices. The three-judge panel wrote that Messier “had awarded to himself, while the company was in grave difficulty, very large amounts.” Bronfman and Messier plan on appealing. In a statement, Bronfman said, “I am disappointed that the Court differed with both the Paris public prosecutor and the lead civil claimant in the case. As I have consistently stated, my trades were proper.” Messier, who left Vivendi in 2002, said that the ruling was “profoundly unjust” and that he had “always led this company with integrity.” Also convicted was former Vivendi finance director Guillaume Hannezo, who was fined and received a 15-month suspended sentence. The convictions follow a class-action lawsuit in New York brought last January in which Messier and Hannezo were cleared of misleading investors.
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