Decaux denies acting illegally

Outdoor advertising company JC Decaux has been forced to issue a statement categorically denying that its Belgian subsidiary has been involved in any illegal actions.

JC Decaux chairman Jean-Charles Decaux released a statement claiming that all the company’s contracts in Antwerp are “legal”, after the city’s public prosecutor’s office began a corruption investigation at the end of last month.

According to French newspaper La Tribune, the Flemish Socialist Party claims JC Decaux was given preferential treatment in signing advertising contracts. The company has signed four such contracts with the city since 1991.

The Flemish Socialist Party has taken issue with JC Decaux being allowed to replace its sites with rotating units without others being invited to bid for the work. The party believes the company now makes up to three times as much revenue from the sites.

JC Decaux’s statement adds that all its contracts meet the necessary legal and regulatory requirements.

News of the corruption investigation caused JC Decaux shares shares to fall 8.1 per cent last week to a 15-month low of ¤8.50 (£5.83).

In 2000, Decaux founder Jean-Claude Decaux was sentenced for his part in a French scandal which sawa schools contract handed to a Decaux company without other bids being invited. Decaux was fined Ffr100,000 (£10,000) and given a six-month suspended sentence for having negotiated the contract with a French politician (MW February 3, 2000). Decaux is believed to be appealing.

Decaux was also given a year-long suspended sentence in 1992, after unlawfully contributing thousands of pounds to the re-election expenses of the mayor of Liege, in Belgium, where Decaux held the street furniture contract.

JC Decaux’s Belgian unit accounts for 1.7 per cent of the group’s total sales, or ¤27.4m (£18.9m).

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