Court Upholds Soros Insider-Trading Conviction

Oct 7 2011 | 11:09am ET

Though he's now retired, hedge fund billionaire George Soros is still fighting to remove a stain from his otherwise impressive reputation. But he's been stymied in his latest bid to have a five-year-old insider-trading conviction dismissed.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Soros' were not violated in 2007 when a French court fined him €940,000 for trading shares of Société Générale just days after he allegedly learned of a possible takeover of the bank. "The law applicable in 1988 was sufficient for Soros to have been aware that his conduct might be unlawful," the Strasbourg, France-based court ruled.

Soros had argued that French law at the time was unclear. He also complained that the time between the alleged offense and his conviction—14 years—had hindered his ability to put on an adequate defense.

Soros said he would appeal the decision.

The billionaire had been invited to participate in a hostile takeover of SocGen in 1988. He declined, but did buy up US$50 million worth of SocGen shares and those of three other French government-owned companies.

Soros' lawyer complained that in 1989, a year before the criminal investigation of Soros began, French regulators had ended their own investigation with the conclusion that the law was unclear.

"If the law was not clear to the regulator, how could it be clear to Mr. Soros in New York?" Ron Soffer asked.


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