The European Court of Human Rights has rejected billionaire currency speculator George Soros' challenge to his 2002 insider-trading conviction. In fact, the Grand Chamber refused to even review whether France had “violated his rights,” Bloomberg reports.
“The court declined to hear Soros’s appeal it said in a statement today, without providing any reasoning,” Bloomberg’s Heather Smith writes.
“Soros, 81, was convicted by Paris courts in 2002 for using inside information about Societe Generale SA (GLE) in his trading. He argued that French market regulations weren’t clear enough to hold him responsible.”
Apparently, Soros’ “I didn’t know any better” defense was met with skepticism.
As “a famous institutional investor, well-known to the business community and a participant in major financial projects,” Soros should have been “particularly prudent” to ensure that he was acting within insider-trading laws, the court said in its October decision.
“In the French case, Soros was ordered to repay 2.2 million euros ($2.93 million) he’d made from the share purchase and subsequent sale after judges found he’d acted with the knowledge that the bank might be a takeover target,” Smith writes.
“The fine was reduced after a 2007 decision by France’s supreme court to about 940,000 euros.”
Soros’ legal team remains defiant in the face of the recent setback.
“Mr. Soros continues to maintain that he did not engage in improper trading,” his lawyer, Ron Soffer, said today, adding that the Grand Chamber’s refusal is “regrettable” considering the fact that three of the judges in the lower chamber wrote a “strong” dissent.
And here’s something interesting to note: the criminal charges were filed by French prosecutors as opposed stock market regulators. The regulators say they didn’t go after Soros because “insider-trading laws [are] too vague to determine whether he’d broken them.”
“The conviction is so old it has been expunged pursuant to French law,” Soffer said.