The son also stumbles: Edgar Bronfman Jr. not going to jail after all (he’s just been slapped with $6.7-million fine)

The son also stumbles: Edgar Bronfman Jr. not going to jail after all (he’s just been slapped with $6.7-million fine)

Clarissa Bronfman and Edgar Bronfman Jr. attend the 41st annual Party in the Garden at New York’s MoMA in 2009 (Image: Jamie McCarthy/WireImages/Getty) 

Sometimes it’s tough out there for a scion of a Canadian dynasty. Not that Edgar Bronfman Jr. is in danger of missing his rent this month, but he probably would have preferred not to be hit with a $6.7-million fine last Friday. The charges all stem from Bronfman’s time with Vivendi Universal—an era that wasn’t a hit for either Bronfman’s reputation or Vivendi’s bank accounts. (Hint: they had to sell Universal to put the books back in the black.) Last week, a French court made a surprise ruling and convicted Bronfman on charges of insider trading.

According to the Globe and Mail’s Eric Reguly:

Mr. Bronfman, who is now 55 and chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group, was accused of improperly gaining $12.8-million (U.S.) for exercising stock options based on non-public information about a planned share sale. At the Paris hearing, three judges fined him €5-million, or about $6.7-million, and handed him a 15-month suspended prison sentence, meaning he will not be incarcerated.

The same court also convicted Jean Marie-Messier, who was CEO of Vivendi at the time, of misleading investors. He was fined €150,000 and was given a three-year suspended prison sentence.

Both men said they would appeal the convictions, and their fines will be suspended until the outcome of the appeals. Mr. Bronfman said he was “disappointed” with the decision, pointing out that the Paris public prosecutor, Chantal de Leiris, last year recommended that the criminal charges be dropped for lack of evidence.

A $6.7-million fine on an illegal stock sale that netted him $12.8 million still leaves him with $6.1 million in pocket change. Still, this is yet another setback for Bronfman in a career that, as Reguly puts it, has had “more downs than ups.” Bronfman got in on the ill-fated Vivendi Universal deal shortly before it imploded, and then moved to Warner Music as the music industry’s death spiral really got going. At this rate, Liberals might hope that Bronfman comes home to Canada to advise Stephen Harper on the next election.

• Edgar Bronfman Jr. convicted of insider trading [Globe and Mail]
• Bronfman convicted in Vivendi probe []
Edgar Bronfman Jr., Warner Music Group CEO, Found Guilty of Insider Trading by French Court [Billboard]
From civil servant to jet-setting tycoon – to convicted embezzler [Independent]