October 6, 2011
Billionaire investor George Soros lost a challenge to his 2002 insider trading conviction, with the European Court of Human Rights saying French market regulations were clear enough to hold him responsible.
France didn’t violate Soros’s rights in punishing him criminally for trading on inside information about Societe Generale SA in spite of the market regulator’s conclusion that its rules were unclear, the Strasbourg, France-based court said.
“Soros was a famous institutional investor, well-known to the business community and a participant in major financial projects,” the court said in a statement about its ruling. “As a result of his status and experience, he could not have been unaware that his decision to invest” risked violating insider- trading laws, and given “there had been no comparable precedent, he should have been particularly prudent.”
Soros, 81, was convicted in 2002 of insider trading and ordered to repay 2.2 million euros ($2.9 million) he’d made from the share purchase and subsequent sale after a Paris court found he’d acted with the knowledge that the bank might be a takeover target. While prosecutors filed criminal charges, French stock market regulators didn’t pursue Soros, saying insider-trading laws were too vague to determine whether he’d broken them.