Bronfman lawyer asks for Vivendi charges to be dismissed

By | Published on Thursday 3 June 2010

A lawyer for Warner Music top man Edgar Bronfman Jr has asked a Paris court to drop the insider-dealing charges levelled against his client in relation to his time as Vice-Chair of Universal Music parent company Vivendi between 2000 and 2002.

As previously reported, the charges against Bronfman Jr are a side attraction to a criminal court case against Jean-Marie Messier, who was CEO of French conglom Vivendi until 2002, and who nearly drove the company into the ground amid allegations of mismanaging finances and misleading investors. Bronfman Jr was Vice-Chair of Vivendi after the French firm bought his family’s company Seagram, which owned the various Universal entertainment companies, including Universal Music.

Legal man Georges Kiejman told a Paris court yesterday that Bronfman had been cleared of any wrongdoing by investigators, so the case against his client should never have been brought to trial. He added the judge hearing the case had been wrong to call Bronfman to court “without any explanation”.

As also previously reported, while an investigation into Vivendi under Messier’s command by French City regulators led to the former CEO being fined a million euros, Paris-based prosecutors, after seven years of investigations, advised against prosecuting the former top man or any of his board, but the judge hearing the case insisted the accused be brought to trial.

While legal reps for Bronfman and one other accused former Vivendi exec requested the cases against their clients be dismissed without delay, Messier’s lawyer Olivier Metzner said he was optimistic his client would be cleared of all charges, if only because of the Paris prosecutor’s previous statements. He told Bloomberg: “Strangely, the investigating judge decided to go over the prosecutor’s advice. In the end, there will be strictly nothing left against Messier”.

Messier could face up to five years in jail if he were found guilty of all the charges against him. The court hearing should be completed within the month, though a verdict won’t be given until later in the year. It’s not clear how soon the judge will respond to the request that the case against Bronfman be dismissed.