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Sébastien de Montessus, then-CEO of Endeavour Mining Corp., speaks after the inauguration of Ity Gold Mine in western Ivory Coast in 2019.ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images

Ousted Endeavour Mining PLC chief executive Sébastien de Montessus had a history of going behind the backs of his superiors and conducting unauthorized business, well before the British gold mining company fired him for cause this week.

London-based Endeavour on Thursday said it terminated Mr. de Montessus after accusing him of “serious misconduct” related to a payment he authorized without the board’s knowledge.

Mr. de Montessus admitted he authorized a payment of US$5.9-million to a creditor in exchange for security services without getting permission from the board, and called it a “lapse in judgment.”

Before joining Endeavour, he worked for state-owned French nuclear company Areva SA for a decade between 2002 and 2012.

During his time at Areva, Mr. de Montessus hired a Swiss private investigator to look into a mergers and acquisitions deal the company had made, the disastrous top-of-the-market purchase of UraMin Inc. in 2007. Mr. de Montessus admitted he hired the PI without getting authorization from his boss at the time, Anne Lauvergeon.

Ms. Lauvergeon, who was known in France at the time as “Atomic Anne,” subsequently accused Areva of spying on her and her husband, the Financial Times said.

Mr. de Montessus denied the spying allegations, and declined any additional comment on Friday to The Globe and Mail.

More recently, in 2019, the Times reported that French authorities for five years had been investigating Mr. de Montessus for allegedly bribing a public official related to Areva’s purchase of UraMin.

Since March, 2018, Mr. de Montessus’s status in the investigation has been “mis en examen,” which means “under judicial inquiry.”

He denied the allegations to the British newspaper, and declined any further comment on Friday.

Mr. de Montessus joined Endeavour in 2015, three years after leaving Areva. He became CEO in 2016.

The Globe asked Endeavour why it had hired Mr. Montessus, considering his less-than-stellar track record at Areva, and why it continued to employ him amid a continuing French investigation. In response, the company referred The Globe to a public filing it made three years ago that addressed the matter.

In 2021, Endeavour admitted that the continuing investigation by France into Mr. de Montessus could hurt the company’s reputation, and damage its share price. Nevertheless, Endeavour determined that Mr. de Montessus was still fit to perform his duties as CEO.

The company said it would monitor his ability to perform and, depending on the outcome of the inquiry, might eventually require him to step down.

Shares in Endeavour fell by 10 per cent on Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange, but rebounded slightly on Friday, closing up 1.6 per cent to $26.40 apiece.

Endeavour on Thursday also accused Mr. de Montessus of engaging in personal misconduct with colleagues, but said that wasn’t a factor in his termination. The company declined to provide details of the alleged misconduct, but said concerns were raised through its whistle-blowing channel. Mr. de Montessus denied the allegations.

Endeavour is one of the biggest West Africa-focused gold miners. Under Mr. de Montessus, Endeavour bought several Canadian gold companies that had operations in the region, including Montreal-based Semafo Inc. and Toronto-based Teranga Gold Corp.

The company used to be based in Vancouver, but moved its headquarters to London a couple of years ago.

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