Customs action filed against Paribas
From Charles Harzrovo Paris, Nov 2
Two senior customs officials today filed an action against the management of the Paribas group for the alleged illegal transfer to Canada of 35,000 gold coins worth Fr29m last year. The chief public prosecutor in Paris will decide in the next few days what judicial steps are to be taken. He has already ordered preliminary investigations against M Pierre Moussa, the former president of Paribas, who resigned 10 days ago, and M Pierre Latecoere, a Toulouse industrialist, for whose benefit the transfer of gold coins was carried out. Two other senior officials of the bank are also being investigated.
The government decision to presecute Paribas under exchange control regulations was announced last weekend by M Laurent Fabius, the Minister for the Budget. He mentioned another case of alleged illegal transfers by Panibas of substantial funds to Switzerland over several years. This action is expected to be filed in a few days. There is no formal connexion between the two affairs and the recent exchanges of stock and takeover bids which have made it possible for the Swiss and Belgian subsidiaries of Paribas to escape from the nationalization law, which were perfectly legal even if they were ethically questionable.
However, M Pierre Mauroy, the Prime Minister, had declared at the beginning of last month, when the proposed takeover bid for Paribas Suisse came to light, that while it was powerless to preserve the integrity of the group and stop the move, "the government will take up the affair on another plane" The "customs case" referred to a search by a dozen or so customs investigators of the premises of Paribas when some 450 private accounts known only by numbers and opened between 1968 and 1978 were found. The customs men also confiscated a sum of Frlm and unearthed an alleged illegal transfer of gold coins to Canada via Belgium for the benefit of an industralist.
Paribas was not the only object of the curiosity of the customs administration. Other banks have been investigated, including, according to trade union sources mentioned by Le Monde, the Credit Conmmercial de France.