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Appeals Court Upholds Soros Conviction

AP March 24, 2005

A French appeals court on Thursday upheld George Soros' conviction for insider trading, which the billionaire investor says has unfairly damaged his reputation.

The court also upheld a 2002 fine of 2.2 million euros ($2.9 million at current rates) for the Hungarian-born financier. The fine was the same amount he was accused of making from the purchase and the sale of shares in Societe Generale bank 17 years ago, allegedly with insider knowledge.

Soros was not present in court, defense lawyer Ron Soffer said.

At an appeals hearing last month, the billionaire acknowledged hearing about a Paris financier's plans to take over the newly privatized French bank days before he began buying its shares independently.

But Soros, 74, denies that knowledge amounted to insider information or influenced his decision to buy, which he maintains was part of a broader, well-documented investment strategy.

"My reputation is at stake," Soros told the court on Feb. 10.

The three-judge panel was deciding whether to overturn, modify or uphold his original conviction and fine - the only legal blemish on a three-decade investment career. Prosecutors had requested the conviction and fine be maintained.

Soros, whose Quantum Fund is worth about $8.3 billion, emigrated to the United States in 1956 and set up Soros Fund Management in 1973. He later made a fortune on foreign exchange markets and was criticized in some quarters for speculating on, and arguably encouraging, the collapse of Asian currencies in the late 1990s.

He now heads a philanthropic network that has funneled massive sums into education, public health, science and non-governmental groups, mostly in the former communist bloc.