Judges hand former Areva boss Lauvergeon preliminary charges

PARIS – French investigative judges have handed the former CEO of nuclear giant Areva preliminary charges over the company’s disastrous investment in African uranium mines.

The national financial prosecutor’s office said Friday night that Anne Lauvergeon was charged with releasing false or misleading information and for disclosing inaccurate accounts.

The former Areva boss from 2001-2011 was also placed under the status of “assisted witness” for abuse of power. This status is the step before being a charged suspect.

Lauvergeon was summoned to the judges’ office in early Friday and was charged in the evening after an all-day hearing.

Judges suspect that Areva, then-chaired by Lauvergeon, deliberately submitted misleading annual accounts for the financial year 2010-2011. These accounts may have concealed huge write-downs due to the ruinous investment in Uramin, a Canadian company that was supposed to exploit African uranium deposits.

Areva bought Uramin for 1.8 billion euros in 2007 but, after Lauvergeon quit as CEO in 2011, the subsidiary lost 80 per cent of its value.