(Adds comment from BPCE spokesman)
PARIS, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Francois Perol, chairman of France’s second-biggest retail bank, BPCE, is to face trial in a case to determine whether his nomination to head the group in 2009 represented a conflict of interest, a judicial source told Reuters on Thursday.
Prosecutors have said Perol, who was an economic adviser for former President Nicolas Sarkozy before being appointed to the bank, risks two years’ prison and a 30,000 euro ($34,000) fine if found guilty.
French law prohibits public servants from being hired by companies over which they have had direct authority. Perol has denied all wrongdoing.
A spokesman for BPCE said on Thursday that sending Perol to trial was simply the logical next step in the legal process.
“The facts being examined relate to Francois Perol’s nomination at the head of BPCE and in no way his role as manager,” the spokesman said, adding that the supervisory board had unanimously reiterated its confidence in Perol in February 2014 for a mandate running until April 2017.
Perol was appointed to head BPCE in 2009 after it was formed by a state-backed merger of regional banks Banque Populaire and Caisse d‘Epargne aimed at preventing their investment banking business Natixis from collapsing during the financial crisis.
He has faced repeated criticism from trade unions, who have said his work for the government included advising on the merger of major retail banks and that this makes him unsuitable for the role.
Perol was also appointed chairman of the French Banking Federation on Sept. 1 for one year. ($1 = 0.8794 euros) (Reporting by Chine Labbe; Writing by Mark John; Editing by James Regan and Vincent Baby)