SEC Bill: $50M for Vivendi, $26M for Messier

Vivendi Universal will pay a $50 million penalty and its former CEO, Jean-Marie Messier, will forfeit a $25 million severance package and pay a fine to settle fraud charges brought by U.S. regulators, AP reported.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Tuesday following an 18-month probe into the Paris-based media giant.

SEC court papers filed in New York accused Vivendi, Messier and former finance chief Guillaume Hannezo of deceptive accounting practices allowing the company to meet earnings estimates.

Messier must forfeit his entire severance package -- which the SEC said is now worth $25 million, including interest -- in addition to paying a $1 million penalty and agreeing not to serve as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years.

Hannezo will be required to pay about $270,000 and be bound by the corporate-leadership restrictions for five years.