(CNSNews.com) - Billionaire financier George Soros's conviction for insider trading was upheld by a French appellate court on Thursday.
Soros, the liberal financier who spent more than $23 million of his own money trying to defeat President Bush last year, was found guilty of insider trading in 2002 by a French court for his involvement in a 1988 takeover battle of the French bank Societe Generale. Soros is facing a fine of $2.87 million.
On Thursday, the Paris Court of Appeal upheld Soros's conviction for obtaining insider information about the bank before a planned corporate raid was launched to drive up the company's share price.
Soros has said he did not have any insider information relating to the bank and argued that the planned takeover was public information. But a three-judge panel at the Paris Court of Appeal ruled that the information Soros possessed was "precise, confidential and of that kind that was likely to influence the share price" of Societe Generale bank.
Soros's lawyers had argued in 2002 that the 14-year delay between the alleged wrongdoing and the trial made the case too old to properly defend.
Soros spokesman Michael Vachon said the billionaire remained "confident that ultimately he'll be vindicated." Soros plans to appeal the case to the Cour de Cassation (French supreme court).
A Soros critic was quick to comment on Thursday's ruling. "This affirmation of Soros's criminal conviction adds to the doubts about Soros's credibility and business ethics," stated Peter Flaherty, the president of the conservative National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC).
"Soros is quick to find fault with those [with] whom he disagrees. During 2004, Soros spent millions bankrolling ads that challenged the honesty and truthfulness of other people. The French court action underscores Soros's arrogance and hypocrisy," Flaherty added.
Soros also misrepresented his original 2002 insider trading conviction while speaking at various anti-Bush campaign appearances last year, according to Flaherty.
Flaherty said that during his own questioning of Soros at an Oct. 19, 2004 political event in Harrisburg, Pa., the liberal financier denied that he had been convicted of insider trading or that he had been fined by the French court.
Yet, Flaherty pointed out that in a 2003 appearance on the PBS show, "Now With Bill Moyers," Soros had admitted he "was found guilty."
"During the 2004 presidential campaign, Soros apparently misled the public about his insider trader conviction. Since Soros now seeks to play such a huge role in the electoral process, the American people deserve to know the truth about Soros's past and his business dealings," Flaherty stated Thursday.
Flaherty speculated that Soros may have based his 2004 denial on the fact that in France a suspect is considered innocent until all appeals are exhausted.
The insider trading conviction is not Soros's only legal headache. In January, the NLPC filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), alleging "extensive apparent violations by Soros of the Federal Campaign Act" for "fail[ing] to report significant expenditures related to his anti-Bush tour."
In addition, as Cybercast News Service previously reported, Soros is being sued and could end up having to testify over a dog attack at his estate in Westchester County, N.Y. The lawsuit was filed by a carpet installer who was attacked by a dog when he arrived at Soros's estate in April 2004.
See Related Articles:
Liberal Financier Accused of Violating Federal Election Law (Jan. 19, 2005)
George Soros Sued Over Dog Attack (March 2, 2005)
George Soros Claims 'Smear Attack' Over Lawsuit Story (March 3, 2005)
E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.
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