« Entrent également au conseil [d’administration de Sasea] plusieurs banquiers dont le Parisien Truffert—une vielle connaissance de Fiorini—et Eric Baudat, vice-président du cabinet d’audit Fidès. Le premier commissaire aux comptes sera aussi Fidès, en association avec KPMG, choix qui ne manque pas d’étonner—même à Genève—au regard d’un évident conflit d’intérêt entre le poste de vice-président de la Sasea et celui de Fidès. »
–Thierry Jean-Pierre, Crédit-Lyonnais : l’enquête (1997) p. 109
The Lausanne lawyer who was Administrative President of Florio Fiorini’s Sasea Financière. Sasea was owned by the Vatican for almost 100 years before Fiorini bought it in 1985. “Sasea” is an acronym which stands for “Société Anonyme Suisse d’exploitations Agricoles.” The Vatican used it as a holding company for its foreign investments.
Baudat was not only a top executive at Sasea Holding SA, but also the Vice-President of one of its auditors. Thus, there seemed to be a conflict of interest (see above quotation). Baudat was charged with fraudulent bankruptcy in 1993 by Geneva judge Jean-Louis Crochet a year after Sasea went bust. It was the biggest Swiss bankruptcy of all time, causing a hole of over $1 billion in Switzerland alone. The sordid case was closed in 2014 after over 20 years of investigation. Baudat and other Swiss administrators of Sasea were acquitted in 1998.
At the center of the Sasea affair were the “rocambolesque” adventures of financial wizard Fiorini, who had been involved in many Italian financial scandals in the final decades of the 20th Century—including the Banco Ambrosiano scandal of 1982—and his partner Giancarlo Paretti, a former waiter from Orvieto, Italy who turned himself into an international flim-flam man. To finance their grandiose investments, the irrepressible Paretti and the diffident Fiorini managed to obtain fabulous loans from the Dutch affiliate (CLBN) of the high-flying French bank Crédit Lyonnais. Much of what they got from Crédit Lyonnais was used to bribe other lenders. The duo’s biggest venture was their 1990 acquisition of US film-making giant MGM. Four months after Fiorini and Paretti bought it from American financier Kirk Kerkorian for $1.3 billion, MGM was bankrupt.