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Frenchman Fights SEC’s Gmail Subpoena

MANHATTAN (CN) - Calling the subpoena for his Gmail activity "extraordinarily invasive," a European investor has filed a federal complaint against the Securities Exchange Commission and Google.

Vista Capital Management co-founder Lucien Selce describes himself in the Nov. 17 complaint as a French citizen living in Geneva, Switzerland.

Though Selce has never lived in the United States, or held any office here, and has never traded in the United States, the SEC is probing his trading with the French company, GDF Suez, according to the complaint.

Selce says the subpoena that the SEC sent Google in September was "illegally issued and abusively motivated."

The eight-page complaint describes the subpoena as a "stunning example of the agency's attempted overreaching."

An SEC spokesman declined to comment. Google has not returned a request for comment.

In the subpoena, which Selce included as an exhibit to his complaint, SEC attorney Rua Kelly asked Google to produce documents associated with Selce's email account, created between January 2012 and December 2013.

The SEC seeks the name, phone number and birthday of the account holder, the date the account was set up, and the names, dates and times of all emails sent and received.

Emails that Selce's New York-based attorney sent to Google and to the SEC are also included as exhibits.

Selce says the SEC ignored the attorney's request for a copy of the subpoena and never gave a reason "why and under what authority" it had to serve Google.

"There has, in other words, been a complete lack of transparency or even minimal cooperation from the SEC," the complaint states.

Google sent Batista the subpoena on Nov. 6, according to the complaint.

Selce says the subpoena's "invasiveness, extraordinary expanse and utter lack of foundation is plain on its face."

He notes that the subpoena seeks information regarding a certain Geneva law firm "with which Mr. Selce has no connection."

Though Batista allegedly asked Google on Nov. 10 not to comply with the subpoena, and challenged Google's demand for "a file-stamped motion to quash the subpoena," Google has not responded, according to the complaint.

"The extraordinarily invasive subpoena encompasses not just Mr. Selce in his personal and business capacities," Selce says. "It also encompasses members of his family, his business associates and clients."

Batista's Nov. 10 letter to Google, included in the exhibits advises "that Google's own best interests would be served by joining as a plaintiff."

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