Lyonnais in probe

PARIS (Reuters) – The Paris public prosecutor opened a criminal probe Monday into suspected fraud at Credit Lyonnais in the early 1990s, justice sources said.

The move followed a request by Finance Minister Jean Arthuis for legal action against former top managers at the state bank, which saw massive losses in the early ’90s.

Arthuis said in August he wanted to bring former bosses – he gave no names – to justice for failing to control subsidiaries during runaway expansion in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The French bank was a major lender in that period to several Hollywood companies, including MGM/UA when it was owned by Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti.

Credit Lyonnais revealed losses of 21 billion francs ($4 billion) between 1992 and 1994 and has since been steered from one salvage plan to another, with a third rescue likely soon.

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