Known to the French press in his glory days as J6M (Jean-Marie Messier, Moi Meme Maitre du Monde), the once unstoppable dealmaker and chairman/ceo of Vivendi Universal, will today (Thursday) appear before the Autorite des Marches Financiers to defend himself against allegations of misleading investors about the group's financial condition back in 2002.

Also summoned by the financial regulator is Messier's former colleague and Vivendi cfo Guillaume Hannezo. Both men will be invited to explain how, after a massive global acquisition jag, Vivendi teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in 2002 to post the largest loss in French corporate history.

Today's session follows more than two years of investigation by the AMF and French police. Messier and Hannezo, if judged guilty of misdemeanor, both face fines of up to €1.5 million ($1.91m; £1.04m) - as does Vivendi as a corporate entity.

The group will be represented at today's hearing by current Vivendi ceo Jean-Rene Fourtou, who was recruited in the wake of the débâcle.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff