Logo of Crédit Lyonnais before rebranding due to financial scandal
[ You just can't make up stories like this one. ]
Founded in 1863 in Lyon by Henri Germain, Crédit Lyonnais was the biggest bank in the world by 1900. It was nationalized in 1945, as was most of the banking sector in France after the war.
Following a change of leadership and frantic expansion starting in 1988, the bank was the subject of numerous financial scandals, contributing to a huge debt of around 150 billion French francs (nearly €23 billion). This was caused by directors exaggerating investments and by problems with the bank's subsidiary companies.
[ 23bn! Impressive. At the time it was estimated that 2bn were straight fraud, as in, people just looting the company. ]
Crédit Lyonnais became the leading lender to Hollywood studios in the 1980s. It also financed Giancarlo Parretti's takeover of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1990 for $1.25 billion. However, Paretti started looting the company, fired most of the accounting staff, appointed his 21-year-old daughter to a senior financial post, and used company money to buy presents for several girlfriends. By June 1991, CL had had enough: under the terms of an April agreement that gave it control of Parreti's MGM stock, it fired Parretti and began a lawsuit against him. However, CL soon faced intense scrutiny for its dealings with Parretti. Overall, CL lost $5 billion from its Hollywood deals.
[ Executives, shareholders, close friends of insiders are looting the bank, so it's only logical that a big client of the bank would loot the bank... ]
On May 5, 1996 a major fire destroyed much of Crédit Lyonnais' Paris headquarters. The fire began in the main trading room of the bank and was one of the worst fires to damage a Paris building in 25 years. It burned for over 12 hours, destroying two-thirds of the building, along with crucial bank archives and computer data.
[ Oh! The evidence went up in flames!! That's such a _disaster_!! On second thoughts... The evidence literally went up in flames - it's much more expedient than the shredding at Enron. ]