PARIS, April 7 (Reuters) – A verdict in a French criminal court case over allegations that investment bank Natixis made a misleading statement in 2007 about its financial strength in relation to sub-prime exposure is set to be announced in June, judges said on Wednesday.
Natixis was one of the French banks hardest hit by the crisis in 2007 when the collapse of bonds backed by poor-quality mortgages – dubbed sub-prime – spread through financial markets.
The bank eventually had to be rescued by its parent bank BPCE and was later restructured.
Prosecutors are asking the court to fine Natixis 7.5 million euros ($8.91 million). Natixis denied any wrongdoing and lawyers for the bank argued in the trial that the bank did not try to mislead investors.
“We plead for acquittal,” Eric Dezeuze, a lawyer for Natixis, told the court on Wednesday in closing arguments.
The trial followed a complaint filed in 2009 by French shareholders association Adam on behalf of hundreds of retail investors, demanding investigations into Natixis’ financial communication from 2006, when the bank was listed, until 2009.
Prosecutors initially opened a probe into two statements Natixis released in July and November 2007 over its exposure to the subprime crisis. Magistrates dismissed bringing a case based on the earlier one, and in 2019 ordered a criminal trial over the November filing.
Financial watchdog AMF also looked into whether Natixis misled investors during the 2007 sub-prime crisis and decided not to bring any charges against the bank. ($1 = 0.8416 euros) (Reporting by Matthieu Protard. Editing by Jane Merriman)