Edgar Bronfman Jr. ordered to stand trial in Vivendi probe - Macleans.ca

Edgar Bronfman Jr. ordered to stand trial in Vivendi probe

Warner Music CEO one of seven former executives charged


Montreal-born businessman Edgar Bronfman Jr., chief executive of Warner Music, will stand trial in Paris with six other former executives of the French media giant Vivendi SA, on criminal charges that they mislead investors while transforming a former water utility into a high-flying entertainment conglomerate. It is not immediately clear when the trial will be held. The executives, among them former Vivendi CEO Jean Marie Messier, have been the focus of a five-year investigation into market manipulation, distribution of false financial information, and misuse of corporate funds at the company. Today’s long-awaited decision by the investigating judge overrules a January recommendation by Paris prosecutors to drop the case. Bronfman became a vice-chairman in 2000 after Vivendi Universal bought his family’s Seagram distillery business. The charges are expected to buttress a U.S. class action suit lodged by investors who say they suffered billions of dollars in losses after the company lied about its revenue and earnings. Vivendi has counter-sued in Paris to block French residents from participating in the New York case. Bronfman resigned from the Vivendi’s board in 2003 and led a group of private-equity firms in the $2.6 billion purchase of Warner Music from New York-based Time Warner Inc.


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