Byline: Sarah Raper

PARIS — Pierre Fabre, founder and chairman of France’s fifth-largest pharmaceuticals group with some of the best-known cosmetics brand names in French pharmacies, is under official investigation for “active corruption.”
The case centers on the sale in June 1994 of a parcel of land with a market value of $340,000 (1.7 million francs) by the city of Cahors, in southwest France, to a subsidiary of Laboratoires Pierre Fabre for the symbolic price of 1 franc, according to Le Monde, which broke the story of the investigation Wednesday.
According to the paper, the investigating magistrate is looking into why Bernard Charles, the mayor of Cahors and the parliament member for his region, and his wife were on Fabre’s payroll and collected some $600,000 (3 million francs) as consultants to the company.
A spokeswoman for the company confirmed to WWD that Fabre was under investigation but said he is traveling abroad and could not be reached. She added that the group had no comment on the matter.
No hearing dates were given. Fabre is the fifth person to be investigated in the affair. In addition to Charles and his wife, Fabre group communication director Pierre-Yves Revol and Yves Mellac, the deputy mayor of Cahors, are also being questioned, according to the Agence France Presse.
Fabre, 69, is a colorful French businessman who has insisted on running his pharmaceuticals and cosmetics business from Castres, in the southwest, although nearly all his competitors are based in Paris.
Sales for 1995 are estimated at $1.06 billion (5.3 billion francs), a third of which is brought in by cosmetics brands sold in drug stores, including Klorane, Rene Furterer, Galenic, Ducray and Avene.

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