US financial regulators on Tuesday moved to stop Jean-Marie Messier receiving his controversial $23.3m golden parachute, just a day after the former chief executive of Vivendi Universal scored a court victory over the money.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission filed an application in court in New York to impound the money pending inquiries into Messier’s tenure at the company. The application, which will be heard on September 29, is one of the first uses by the SEC of powers granted under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The law has provisions designed to help wronged investors recoup money after financial fraud. The SEC argues that since it is investigating Vivendi, Mr Messier should not yet receive his pay-off. “The SEC’s application requests that the United States district court order Vivendi to place in escrow, subject to court supervision, the money that Messier is claiming,” the regulator said.

“The commission’s staff has been investigating possible violations of the federal securities laws by Vivendi and its directors, officers, partners, controlling persons, agents, or employees.”
A US court upheld Mr Messier’s contract and dealt a blow to the debt-laden media group. Vivendi had asked the New York State Supreme Court to overrule a US arbitration panel decision that approved the award.

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