May 26, 2016 / 11:17 AM / 3 years ago

French Senate decides not to pursue SocGen CEO over 2012 tax testimony

Societe Generale Chief Executive Frederic Oudea arrives at a Senate hearing May 11, 2016 in Paris, France, where he reiterated that it had no offices or staff in Panama as of 2012 and said it was wrong to think the French bank was at the heart of tax fraud, revealed in the Panama Papers. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s top Senate committee decided on Thursday not to pursue Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) Chief Executive Frederic Oudea over allegations he misled France’s upper house of parliament in 2012 regarding the French bank’s activities in Panama.

Earlier this month, Oudea defended SocGen over the Panama Papers revelations during a two-hour grilling by lawmakers, rejected accusations the French lender was at the heart of tax evasion.

“The committee (of senior senators) decided that although the statements in question might have contained some ambiguity, they could not be qualified as false testimony,” the Senate said in a statement.

At issue were accusations that Oudea misled senators when he told a Senate committee in 2012 that his bank had closed operations in Panama and other tax havens identified as overly secretive or short of international transparency standards.

Oudea was thrust to the fore of a controversy over the use of secretive tax havens in April after an investigative news syndicate exposed the activities of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The reports, based on 11.5 million leaked documents, put SocGen near the top of a list of banks around the world that had created hundreds of thousands of shell companies in Panama and other offshore centers between 1977 and 2015.

At the public hearing in May, Oudea reiterated that the bank had no offices or staff in Panama as of 2012, as he had told the Senate committee that year, when he was also head of France’s banking association.

Reporting by Julien Ponthus; Writing by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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