Sanofi Halts Vial’s Consulting Role Amid Probe of Cahuzac

Sanofi (SAN) said a consultant to Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher is no longer advising the company after authorities searched his office at the drugmaker as part of a tax probe of a former French minister.

Investigators probing former Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac are looking into his dealings with Daniel Vial, a lobbyist and consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, the Le Parisien newspaper said today. Authorities are looking into whether an offshore bank account held by Cahuzac contained money he received from drug companies, the newspaper said.

“Under a mutual agreement, the consulting mission of Mr. Vial was suspended, so that he can dedicate himself to his matters,” Jean-Marc Podvin, a spokesman for Paris-based Sanofi, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg News today.

Vial, reached by telephone, also confirmed that the agreement had been suspended for a limited period and said he would spend his time defending his position.

Cahuzac resigned as budget minister March 19 over allegations that he held an secret offshore bank account. After denying before parliament that he held the account, he said April 2 the denials were untrue. Judges charged him with tax fraud. After the resignation, President Francois Hollande required ministers to divulge their assets and income sources.

Prosecutors are looking into whether the money in Cahuzac’s account in the 1990s came from drug companies as payment for his influence with public officials, Le Parisien said.

Cahuzac and Vial met at the end of the 1980s, when Cahuzac worked for the Health Ministry on pharmaceutical policy, the Journal du Dimanche newspaper reported April 21. After leaving the government, Cahuzac set up a consulting firm, and Vial directed work his way from drug companies, the newspaper said.

Vial’s home and office at Sanofi were searched to see if the two men continue to do business together, Le Parisien said.

Gilles August, a lawyer for Cahuzac, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on the allegations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Serafino in Paris at pserafino@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root at vroot@bloomberg.net

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