Revealed: Lionel Messi and his father in new alleged tax scam

By , Begoña Perez Ramírez (Infolibre) and EIC
Lionel Messi beside his father Jorge during their trial on tax fraud charges in Barcelona in June 2016. © Reuters Lionel Messi beside his father Jorge during their trial on tax fraud charges in Barcelona in June 2016. © Reuters

Documents obtained from the whistleblowing platform Football Leaks reveal a financial structure that Spanish tax authorities suspect was used to hide part of the remunerations paid to FC Barcelona star player Lionel Messi, already convicted of tax fraud in 2016 along with his father Jorge Messi. The documents detail how the latter received 6.7 million euros from the Catalan club via a Luxembourg bank account belonging to a shell company registered in London.

The French-made warships blockading Yemen's starving population

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The French-built Saudi frigate Al-Dammam 816, in May 2014. © US Navy The French-built Saudi frigate Al-Dammam 816, in May 2014. © US Navy

Video evidence that warships sold by France to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have played an active role in the maritime blockade of Yemen, contributing to the starvation of millions of civilians in what the UN has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, has emerged in an investigation partnered by Mediapart. Meanwhile, a UN report earlier this month warned that the legality of arms exports to belligerents in the conflict in Yemen by countries including France, Britain and the US “remains questionable”, and that “states may be held responsible for providing aid or assistance for the commission of international law violations”. Antton Rouget and Yann Philippin report.

How French far-right eyes local election gains

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French far-right leader Marine Le Pen casting her vote in the May 2019 European Parliament elections. © Reuters French far-right leader Marine Le Pen casting her vote in the May 2019 European Parliament elections. © Reuters

The French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party, the renamed Front National, held its post-summer congress this weekend in the south-east town of Fréjus, when its leader Marine Le Pen set out the party’s policies ahead of municipal elections to be held across the country in six months’ time. The RN, which won the majority of votes cast in France in European Parliament elections in May, hopes to at last solidly establish itself at a local level, amid a fragmented political landscape in the country and notably the collapse of the conservatives. In this interview with Lucie Delaporte, French political scientist Sylvain Crépon, a specialist of far-right politics, analyses the party’s new strategy for the elections.

This shameful Europe

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The newly appointed European Commission, whose members take up their posts on November 1st, is to include a vice-president responsible for migration and home affairs with the title of “Protecting our European Way of Life”. Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues here that this semantic choice is a shameful concession to the continent’s far-right, whereby issues of identity have overturned social demands.

Result of probe into Air France Rio-Paris crash outrages victims' families

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A Brazilian navy ship retrieves debris from Air France flight AF447 found on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, June 9th 2009.

Ten years after the crash over the Atlantic Ocean of Air France flight AF447, in which all 228 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus 330 were killed, the French judicial investigation into the events has finally closed, without charges. The magistrates in charge of the probe have controversially exonerated the airline and Airbus of any responsibility for the disaster, which it instead placed firmly on the flight crew. The September 5th ruling has outraged relatives of the victims, who have accused the investigation of buckling before “the aeronautical lobby”, and who have now lodged an appeal to re-open the investigation. Mediapart has obtained access to the case file which, as Yann Philippin reports, contains numerous elements which contradict the magistrates’ findings.

'Corrupt' electoral system of late French billionaire Serge Dassault to go on trial

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Serge Dassault in 2016. © Reuters Serge Dassault in 2016. © Reuters

Seven members of an allegedly corrupt electoral system put in place by the well-known billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault in a town south-east of Paris, including the current mayor, are to stand trial. Ordering the court hearing, investigating judge Serge Tournaire referred to an “unprecedented” level of election corruption, including vote-buying. Mediapart's Yann Philippin, who has co-written a book on the subject, reports on how the details of what has been dubbed the “Dassault System” are finally to be heard in a courtroom.

Truth behind former Macron minister's summer media campaign to clear his name

Ex-minister François de Rugy seeks to clear his name on BFM TV, July 29th 2019. © DR Ex-minister François de Rugy seeks to clear his name on BFM TV, July 29th 2019. © DR

A string of revelations from Mediapart about his lifestyle and use of public money led to the resignation of François de Rugy, environment minister and number two in the French government, on July 16th 2019. Since then the former minister has been on a PR offensive, helped by friends in the media, seeking to prove that his name has subsequently been “cleared” and that Mediapart's revelations had been “refuted”. This is obviously untrue. Fabrice Arfi, Michaël Hajdenberg, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi look back over the facts of the case.

Gendarmes still struggle to predict future crime despite new software

By Alexandre Léchenet

Gendarmes in Frances have been testing algorithmic software to see if it will help them predict patterns of offences in their areas and thus help them to cut crime. Despite the claims made for the software, analysis by Mediapart suggests that it has had limited effect, far removed from how it is portrayed in science fiction. Nonetheless, as Alexandre Léchenet reports, the crime 'predicting' tool has now been rolled out for general use by gendarmes across France.

Despite Macron's pleas over Amazon, French Guiana faces its own forest threats

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An unauthorised gold-prospecting site in operation in 2017 in French Guiana. © Parc Amazonien de Guyane An unauthorised gold-prospecting site in operation in 2017 in French Guiana. © Parc Amazonien de Guyane

For many years, French leaders have liked to pose on the international scene as potential saviours of the Amazon, as we have just witnessed at the recent G7 summit in Biarritz with the diplomatic spat between President Emmanuel Macron and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro over forest fires. President François Mitterrand started the trend back at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. But alongside the diplomatic posturing there is also the reality of what is happening in French Guiana, an overseas region of France that lies just to the north-east of the Amazon rainforest. As Marion Briswalter reports from Cayenne in Guiana, what is happening on the ground in this French corner of South America reflects less well on Paris's stewardship of the environment.

Sarkozy-Libya affair: judges probe key middleman's network of influence

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Middleman Alexandre Djouhri in London, where he is fighting against extradition to France. Middleman Alexandre Djouhri in London, where he is fighting against extradition to France.

French detectives and judges investigating the financial links between former President Nicolas Sarkozy's entourage and the Libyan regime of dictator Muammar Gaddafi are making progress in relation to a key figure in the affair. He is businessman Alexandre Djouhri, currently living in London, whom French judges are trying to extradite for questioning. His right-hand man, banker Wahib Nacer, was placed under formal investigation in the affair earlier this year. Fabrice Arfi reports on the latest judicial developments that are causing concern for the Sarkozy clan.

Inside the French army’s chemical and biological weapons antidote factory

By Rozenn Le Saint
In the quality control laboratory at the French Army's antidote-producing Central Pharmacy. © RLS In the quality control laboratory at the French Army's antidote-producing Central Pharmacy. © RLS

In a military base not far from the city of Orleans south of Paris, a top-security factory ensures France is well-prepared for a range of chemical and biological threats. Even when there is no imminent danger some 30 million to 40 million pills are made each year – and destroyed when they pass their expiry date. Mediapart's Rozenn Le Saint was given rare access.

Macron's big fail at G7 summit: no change on key global issues

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Presidents Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in Biarritz, August 26th 2019. © Reuters Presidents Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in Biarritz, August 26th 2019. © Reuters

In 2018 President Emmanuel Macron experienced a catastrophic period in domestic politics after the summer break. In 2019 the French head of state has tried to hit the ground running by placing himself firmly at the centre of the international stage. His hosting of the G7 summit in Biarritz in south-west France was greeted with unanimous approval by the French press which hailed it a success. Yet as Mediapart's Ellen Salvi reports, nothing in the substance of the issues tackled at the international gathering has changed.

Macron's knockout win at G7 summit in Biarritz – the snuffing out of protests

A protest involving portraits of President Emmanuel Macron held at Bayonne near the G7 summit on August 25th 2019. © Yann Levy / Hans Lucas A protest involving portraits of President Emmanuel Macron held at Bayonne near the G7 summit on August 25th 2019. © Yann Levy / Hans Lucas

The main 'counter summit' to the recent G7 gathering took place miles away from the French resort of Biarritz, towns were locked down, and some protestors were banned from the area. The result was low-key, small-scale opposition to the meeting of international leaders, representing an undeniable success for the French presidency. Christophe Gueugneau and Elisa Perrigueur report.

Why Latin American migrants have been sleeping rough in a Paris suburb

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Around 150 migrants from Latin America – Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic – are living in a makeshift street camp in a Paris suburb having recently been evicted from a disused warehouse in which they were squatting. Some came to France for a better life for their family, others for political reasons. But as Irene Casado reports, all the migrants, who include children and pregnant women, face an uncertain future faced with the indifference of the local mayor and the lack of suitable housing.

Probe launched into suspected Epstein sex crimes in France

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 © o Reuters/New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry © o Reuters/New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry

The Paris prosecution services announced on Friday that they have launched a preliminary investigation into suspected “rape” and “sexual assault”, notably of minors, in connection with the activities in France of the late US financier Jeffrey Epstein and others connected to him. The investigation, which has received claims by ten people in France that they were victims or witnesses of sexual violence committed by Epstein and his entourage, will seek not only evidence of crimes that may have been committed in France, but also those involving French victims or perpetrators committed abroad.