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Soros Faces Trial in Long-Standing French Investig

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NEW YORK (–Hedge fund manager George Soros is among the four men scheduled to go on trial this Thursday for insider trading in Soci?t? G?n?rale stock that occurred about 14 years ago. The charges are related to an unsuccessful takeover attempt that drove up the bank’s shares.

“Soros is cooperating with the authorities and is fully confident that he will be vindicated when the proceedings conclude,” said a spokesman for the billionaire.

Besides Mr. Soros, the defendants are Jean-Pierre Peyraud, Jean-Charles Naori, and Samir Traboulsi, all financial highfliers in France. The case is more about them than it is about Mr. Soros, sources said. The four are accused of buying the shares on the basis of confidential information that Marceau, an investment bank, intended to bid for Soci?t? G?n?rale in 1988.

The defendants do not deny buying the shares or talking to the head of Marceau, Georges Pebereau, but claim that they knew no more than many other investors. They were ordered to stand trial in December 2000, but no date was set then. The trial is expected to last no more than a couple of weeks after Nov. 7 and the judges may render a decision by next month.

To build the case, French authorities attempted to learn about financial activities by the accused in other countries. This has taken a long time, with the investigation dragging on since 1990 or so.

Mr. Pebereau and several others have already been cleared of charges connected to the attempted takeover, which was resisted by Soci?t? G?n?rale and failed when the bank’s price went up more than 100%. In 1999 Soci?t? G?n?rale also fought a proposed merger with BNP Paribas.


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