Other than a midnight swoop by Freddie Kruger, there are few experiences as scary as a raid by a team of lawyers.

Which fate befell former Vivendi Universal ceo Jean-Marie Messier when fraud investigators raided his and other Paris homes on Thursday.

Another legal commando corps arrived at Vivendi’s Paris headquarters adjacent to the Arc de Triomphe, as well as the offices of French telecoms giant Cegetel in which Vivendi has a 44% stake [soon to be upped to a controlling 58%, WAMN: 04-Dec-02 ].

The investigators were seeking evidence of alleged accounting irregularities by Messier, but Vivendi was quick to point out that its role in the affair is that of complainant. “The group emphasizes that it is a plaintiff claiming damages in these proceedings and that it intends to cooperate fully with the investigations,” read a statement.

The raids follow the launching of an inquiry by the Paris public prosecutor in October when a pair of judges were appointed to assess whether Vivendi had published “false balance sheets” for 2000 and 2001 [while still under Messier’s rule] and if it had “issued false or misleading information” on its fiscal outlook during those years.

There is no truth in the rumour that Disney is bidding for the film rights.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff