The French market watchdog has levelled a £4.5m fine against energy giant EDF for misleading investors about the cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear project.
Regulators say the French state-owned energy company spread “false information” about its agreement with the Government to build the nuclear plant near Burnham-On-Sea.
AMF, France’s financial markets authority, says the company may have set EDF’s share price “at an abnormal or artificial level” by claiming in a news release dated October 2014 that the terms of its deal with the UK government were “unchanged” from the 2013 agreement.
“There had in fact been significant changes to the financing plan by guaranteed debt,” according to the AMF.
They also set a €50,000 fine against Henri Proglio, who was EDF’s chief executive officer at the time, for overseeing the company’s failure to disclose key changes to the Hinkley Point contract.
The fine has been handed down amid frustration in France over the “unacceptable” delays and cost overruns at Hinkley Point C, which EDF is building alongside the Chinese nuclear company CGN.
EDF, which declined to comment on the fine, warned this week of a “high” risk of further delays to the project due to the coronavirus pandemic, which could push back Hinkley’s start-up date to 2027 and raise costs further.
The project was forecast to cost £18bn when it was approved by the Government in 2016, but EDF estimates the costs have since climbed to between £21.5bn and £22.5bn.