Pinault Executive Life offer ‘rejected’
PARIS, Dec 10 (AFP) - US authorities have rejected a new offer from French billionaire Francois Pinault in a settlement for the contested takeover of US insurer Executive Life, a source close to the matter told AFP Wednesday.
Pinault had proposed to pay USD 185 million (EUR 151 million) in a settlement of the long-standing dispute, an offer which US prosecutors had been demanding before talks between French parties and US authorities fell apart at the beginning of the month.
French bank Credit Lyonnais is accused by federal prosecutors in the United States of having purchased Executive Life through shell companies in order to evade a US law at the time that barred banks and foreign governments from owning more than 25 percent of insurers.
Executive Life was eventually aquired by Artemis, a holding company controlled by Pinault, and renamed Aurora.
France on December 2 refused to come to terms with US legal authorities, thereby running the risk of a complex and potentially costly criminal trial, because the proposed agreement covered neither Pinault nor former Credit Lyonnais chairman Jean Peyrelevade.
The source said that now the French state was prepared to pay a fine of 475 million dollars, Credit Lyonnais 100 million dollars, and Pinault 185 million dollars, instead of the 130 million that he had previously offered to shell out for a settlement.
“But Californian authorities refused the offer,” the source said.
Attempts to find an out-of-court settlement collapsed at the beginning of the month when an agreement was rejected at “the highest level” of the French government after Pinault and his holding company Artemis failed to agree to their part of a global settlement, US sources have said.
They said that while Pinault had been offered immunity from criminal prosecution, he was unwilling to stump up as much money in fines as US prosecutors had demanded.
Subject: France news