Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Frank Stronach, the 91-year-old billionaire founder of one of the world’s largest auto parts companies, was arrested and charged on Friday in connection with a sexual assault investigation.

In a brief news release, the police force for Peel Region, outside Toronto, said that the time frame of crimes Mr. Stronach was alleged to have committed spanned from the 1980s until last year.

Mr. Stronach, the Austrian-born founder of Magna International, was charged with offenses that included indecent assault, sexual assault and forcible confinement. He was released after being charged and will appear later at a court in Brampton, Ontario.

Brian Greenspan, Mr. Stronach’s lawyer, said that his client “categorically denies the allegations of impropriety which have been brought against him.”

He added: “He looks forward to the opportunity to fully respond to the charges and to maintain his legacy, both as a philanthropist and as an icon of the Canadian business community.”

Mr. Stronach turned a one-man machine shop he founded in 1957 into a global enterprise. Under his management, Magna, which also assembles vehicles for several automakers including Mercedes-Benz, tried to take over both Chrysler and Opel, the European arm of General Motors.

Investors in Magna often chafed at how Mr. Stronach used his control over the company through a special class of share to involve it in various, sometimes unprofitable, ventures unrelated to making car parts, including a failed restaurant chain, a glossy business magazine, golf courses and horse racing. In 2010, Magna gave Mr. Stronach about $1 billion to cede control.

The Stronach Group, which he founded and which is now run by his daughter, Belinda Stronach, owns or manages horse racing tracks throughout the United States.

In 2013, Team Stronach, a pro-business protest party founded by Mr. Stronach, won two seats in Austrian state parliaments.

In a statement, Tracy Fuerst, a Magna spokeswoman, said that it “has no knowledge of the investigation or the allegations that have been raised beyond what has been reported in the media.”

The Stronach Group did not respond to a request for comment.

It is unclear why the charges were filed in Peel, which is part of the greater Toronto metropolitan area. Mr. Stronach lives in York, which is also in the Toronto area and where Magna has its headquarters. Constable Tyler Bell, a spokesman for the police, declined to comment on the investigation.

While he led Magna, which made him at one point Canada’s highest-paid executive, Mr. Stronach often offered iconoclastic economic and political theories or comments that some found inappropriate. He began the company’s 2007 annual meeting not by discussing his bid for Chrysler, but by asking shareholders who was more attractive to women, himself or his longtime aide, Manfred Gingl.

Mr. Stronach is the second Canadian billionaire to be charged with sex offenses in just over a week. The police in Montreal brought 21 sex-related charges against Robert G. Miller, the founder of Future Electronics, including several counts of sexual exploitation of minors. The police force said that he had paid several young girls to perform sexual acts.

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