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Pinault pays up USD 185m for Executive Life

PARIS, March 16 (AFP) – Artemis, the holding company of French businessman Francois Pinault, has paid USD 185 million (EUR 148 million) demanded by US justice officials in connection with the Executive Life affair, the financial daily Les Echos reported Tuesday.

The holding company said later that this was correct.

The newspaper report said that the payment, made early this month, would end legal proceedings against Artemis that arose from the allegedly fraudulent purchase of Executive Life, a now bankrupt US insurer, by the French bank Credit Lyonnais.

Les Echos said that Artemis had found the money to pay the fine from its own lines of credit. It had not sold any assets nor asked for an exceptional dividend from its main subsidiary, the Pinault-Printemps-Redoute distribution group.

Pinault made a profit of USD 800 million on junk bonds connected with the Executive Life deal, his son has said.

In 1992, Pinault bought a portfolio of high-risk bonds from Credit Lyonnais which had acquired them a year earlier from Executive Life following an offer from the California insurance authorities, his son Francois-Henri Pinault told the French weekly L’Express in December.

Three years after buying the bonds, Artemis bought Executive Life itself, snarling the holding group in a dispute that has opposed for several years US justice officials and several French entities, including Credit Lyonnais, the French state – which owned the bank at the time – and the insurance group Maaf.

On December 13, the French finance ministry announced that all sides had agreed to a deal under which the French parties would pay USD 770 million to end the dispute, a transaction US officials charged was illegal.


                                                              Subject: France news