The former chief executive of Vivendi Universal (V), Jean-Marie Messier (search), was taken into police custody Monday in an investigation into financial wrongdoing during his time at the telecommunications giant, police said.

The investigative unit on financial crime could hold Messier for questioning for up to 48 hours, police said.

Messier was ousted in July 2002 as the company's finances crumbled and its debt spiraled out of control.

Earlier this month, Vivendi's former chief financial officer, Guillaume Hannezo (search), was placed under investigation as part of a probe into alleged insider dealing and share price manipulation.

Hannezo served as Vivendi's chief financial officer under Messier, who had dreamed of transforming the Paris-based company from a water utility into a media titan.

He went on a buying spree that racked up billions of dollars in debt, and company shares lost more than 80 percent of their value. The company is now working to sell most of its entertainment assets.

Investigators on both sides of the Atlantic have been examining financial information provided by Vivendi during Messier's tenure as chairman.