Soros Insider-Trade Appeal Rejected by Human Rights Court

Billionaire investor George Soros lost a challenge to his 2002 insider-trading conviction, with the European Court of Human Rights’s Grand Chamber refusing to review whether France had violated his rights.

The court declined to hear Soros’s appeal it said in a statement today, without providing any reasoning. Soros, 81, was convicted by Paris courts in 2002 for using inside information about Societe Generale SA in his trading. He argued that French market regulations weren’t clear enough to hold him responsible.

As “a famous institutional investor, well-known to the business community and a participant in major financial projects,” Soros should have been “particularly prudent” in ensuring he was obeying insider-trading laws, the Strasbourg, France-based European 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. The fine was reduced after a 2007 decision by France’s supreme court to about 940,000 euros.

“Mr. Soros continues to maintain that he did not engage in improper trading,” his lawyer, Ron Soffer, said today. The Grand Chamber’s refusal is “regrettable” given that three of the judges in the lower chamber wrote a “strong” dissent, he said.

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.

“The conviction is so old it has been expunged pursuant to French law,” Soffer said.

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