French businessman François Marland, who currently resides in Switzerland, has admitted his role in denouncing the actions of Credit Lyonnais (CL) when it acquired California-based Executive Life in 1991.
In an interview with Paris Match, reported in Le Monde and by AFP, Marland admitted that he was the celebrated “Mr. X” who gave details of the bank’s illegal activities to federal prosecutors. CL, its subsidiary Altus Finance, as well as Artemis S.A. and French businessman François Pinault, eventually entered guilty pleas and agreed to pay a total of around $750 million in fines and preliminary provisions to settle the affair. Civil lawsuits are still pending in California courts.
Marland said he was moved to contact federal authorities in 1998 by what he called ‘totally unjust” acts on the part of CL executives and certain directors of the Consortium de réalisation (CDR), a government sponsored group, which took over CL’s debts in 1995.
Marland was briefly imprisoned in Toulouse in 1994 on fiscal fraud charges, arising out of a business deal backed by Altus Finance. Although he was eventually exonerated, he said he felt betrayed, especially by the directors of the CDR, whom he charged had conspired to bring the fraud charges against him, and to make him appear as the guilty party. He charged that the entire system had been manipulated to cover up fraudulent acts, and decided to reveal what he knew of CL’s illegal activities, including the Executive Life affair.
Le Monde observed that “without M. Marland no investigation would have been opened in the U.S.” But Marland himself told the paper than the real fault lay with the fraudulent activities that started with Jean-François Henin, who headed Altus and Jean-Yves Haberer, CL’s president at the time. “If these men hadn’t engaged in a fraudulent scheme, there never would have been an Executive Life affair,” he was quoted as saying.
Marland also denied that either he or his family had profited financially from his revelations. Any “profits realized will be entirely reinvested in foundations or charitable works, for humanitarian or social purposes, that I hope to establish or support over the next ten years” he told the AFP.
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