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Société Générale, France's second-biggest bank, has won undisclosed damages from UK tabloid the Mail on Sunday over an article published last summer falsely alleging that the bank was close to bankruptcy.
LONDON, UK – Société Générale has won undisclosed damages and an apology from UK newspaper the Mail on Sunday over an article published last summer falsely alleging that the French bank was in severe financial difficulties.
A bank spokesman said: “The disagreement has been resolved. The Mail on Sunday has again apologized for publishing false information and Société Générale has decided to give the entire sum to a charitable association,” the BBC reports.
On August 7 2011 the Mail on Sunday reported that France’s second-largest bank was on the “brink of disaster” and in a “perilous” state because of its exposure to Greek debt, and further claimed that the French government was poised to rescue SocGen, The Financial Times reports.
The bank’s shares fell 8.4 percent the day after the article was published, according to Bloomberg. SocGen Chief Executive Frederic Oudéa dismissed the rumors at the time as “rubbish,” adding: “In such a market, which is nervous, it’s relatively easy to circulate absolutely unfounded information.”
Two days after the article’s appearance in the newspaper’s print edition and on its website, the Mail on Sunday issued an online statement apologizing “unreservedly” to SocGen.
The bank began defamation proceedings against Associated Newspapers, which owns the British tabloid, in November, claiming the article had caused “substantial damage to its reputation and prejudice to its trade,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
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In its latest apology, the group said: “On August 7, 2011, we reported Société Générale was in dire financial difficulties because of its exposure to Greek debt, and that the French government was on standby to bail out the bank.
“We accept that this was untrue; the bank was not in serious financial difficulties, nor was it on the brink of insolvency or in line for a bailout from the French government. We have apologized to the bank and have agreed to pay damages.”
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