Exotic, chess-promoting, billionaire Paris socialite Madame Nahed Ojjeh is under formal investigation for possible infringements of UK law related to her mysterious shopping spree for shares in Cordiant Communications [WAMN: 03-Jul-03]. She currently holds 10.95% of Cordiant’s stock.

Britain's Department of Trade and Industry wants to know why she failed to disclose her dealings within the period required by the law? She has already received a draconian tssssk! from the Takeover Panel, a toothless voluntary watchdog.

The DTI, however, has teeth and if the Syrian-born widow of an international arms dealer is found guilty of lawbreaking, she faces a maximum jail sentence of two years.

The Companies Act 1985 part six, section 210(c) requires investors to disclose transactions involving three per cent or more of a company’s shares. Confirmed a spokeswoman for the DTI: “We are currently looking into the matter.”

Ojjeh – also a stockholder in Publicis Groupe which has denied any collusion – bought 17.5m shares in Cordiant; Dacor, a company owned entirely by her, acquired another 14.3m shares; while her son Akram Ojjeh and daughter Lara Tlass own 4.8m shares in Cordiant between them.

Meantime, the media and the ad world is in speculation hyperdrive to know why, in the first place, Madame O paid more than WPP's offer price for these devalued bits of paper?

Data sourced from: Telegraph.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff