Roger-Patrice Pelat died Tuesday in a hospital near here, three weeks after he was charged in an insider trading scandal that has embarrassed France’s Socialist government. He was 70.
A longtime friend of French President Francois Mitterrand, Pelat was admitted to the American Hospital in the Paris suburb of Neuilly on Feb. 27 suffering from a pulmonary embolism and died of a heart attack, a spokeswoman said.
The French news agency Agence France-Presse said Mitterrand, who had known Pelat since their days together in a German World War II prisoner of war camp, visited the hospital after hearing of Pelat’s death.
Last month, Mitterrand defended Pelat on national television as a man of courage and integrity but said if Pelat were found guilty of an offense, “then in my role as President I would not be able to maintain the same kind of friendship I have had with him for so long.”
Pelat and five others have been charged with receiving insider information that allowed them to buy shares of the U.S. packaging company Triangle Industries Inc. shortly before the French-owned aluminum manufacturer Picheney offered a much higher price last year in a successful takeover.
Pelat and his family sold their shares after the price soared, making a profit of about $350,000.