Interpol's controversial funding by Qatar and the IOC

By Mathieu Martinière et Robert Schmidt (We Report)

The international police body Interpol severed all links with football's governing organisation FIFA after the latter's corruption scandal erupted in 2015. But it has maintained partnerships with both the committee organising the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who are at the centre of corruption investigations. This is despite the fact that leading police officers from across Europe tried to alert Interpol over these potentially dangerous links. Mathieu Martinière and Robert Schmidt from the independent journalistic collective We Report investigate.

Why Nicolas Sarkozy faces trial over claims he sought inside information from judge

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Barely a week after Nicolas Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation over Libyan funding of his 2007 presidential campaign, the former president has been hit by a new legal blow. Judges have ruled he must stand trial on corruption and influence peddling charges over claims that he tried to get a senior judge to leak him crucial information about the progress of a case involving him. In return the ex-head of state is said to have promised to help get the judge a plum post in Monaco. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan explains the background.

Sarkozy and Libya: how UN resolution was hijacked

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Aftermath of the French and allied intervention in Libya: Benghazi in March 2018. © Reuters Aftermath of the French and allied intervention in Libya: Benghazi in March 2018. © Reuters

The role of President Nicolas Sarkozy in the military intervention in Libya in 2011 that led to the removal from power and death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 continues to raise many unanswered questions. The original United Nations mandate that Sarkozy and certain other leaders obtained was subsequently hijacked and use to change the regime. As a result the country was left in chaos, helping to empower jihadist groups across various African countries who are still suffering instability as a result. President Emmanuel Macron considers the intervention to have been a “major error”. But is he ready to identify those responsible for it? René Backman reports.

Exclusive: what Sarkozy told police under questioning about Gaddafi funding evidence

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December 10th 2007: Nicolas Sarkozy welcomes Libtyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi on his first official visit to France. © Reuters December 10th 2007: Nicolas Sarkozy welcomes Libtyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi on his first official visit to France. © Reuters

Mediapart has obtained access to extracts of the transcripts of the questioning last week of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy by officers of France’s anti-corruption police agency, OCLCIFF, and also by the magistrates in charge of their investigation into the suspected financing of his 2007 presidential election campaign by the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. They reveal how Sarkozy, who after more than 30 hours of questioning was placed under investigation on March 21st for “illicit funding of an electoral campaign”, “receiving and embezzling public funds” from Libya, and “passive corruption”, was unable to provide convincing answers on a number of key questions, and how also he appeared to place responsibility for some of the most compromising evidence of collusion with Gaddafi’s regime on his close staff, including lifelong allies and friends Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux. Fabrice Arfi and Karle Laske report.

The fact and fiction of Nicolas Sarkozy's claims against Mediapart

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Left to right: Nicolas Sarkozy’s chief of staff Claude Guéant, Muammar Gaddafi and the newly elected president Sarkozy in Tripoli in July 2007. © Reuters Left to right: Nicolas Sarkozy’s chief of staff Claude Guéant, Muammar Gaddafi and the newly elected president Sarkozy in Tripoli in July 2007. © Reuters

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy appeared on French television on Thursday in an attempt to dismiss evidence that this week led to him being placed under investigation for “illicit funding of an electoral campaign”, “receiving and embezzling public funds” from Libya and “passive corruption” by magistrates leading a probe into the alleged funding of his 2007 election campaign by  late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Sarkozy adopted the stance of victim, claiming that a Libyan document approving the secret funding,  revealed by Mediapart in 2012, was a “forgery”, when he misled viewers about expert findings on its veracity and even denied the fact that their conclusions led to his suit against Mediapart being thrown out twice by judges. Mediapart reporters Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske detail here the hard facts about the evidence that the former president knowingly chose to ignore.  

Nicolas Sarkozy placed under investigation for corruption, embezzling public funds and illegal political funding

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Nicolas Sarkozy leaving his Paris home Wednesday morning for a second day of questioning. © Reuters Nicolas Sarkozy leaving his Paris home Wednesday morning for a second day of questioning. © Reuters

Nicolas Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation by magistrates on Wednesday for “illicit funding of an electoral campaign”, “receiving and embezzling public funds” and “passive corruption” at the end of almost 48 hours of questioning by French police investigating evidence that the former French president’s 2007 presidential election campaign was partly funded by the regime of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. It is unprecedented in France for a former president to face prosecution for having been sponsored by a foreign power. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report on the latest events and the background to the case, which followed Mediapart's first revelations in 2011.

How Sarkozy's dealings with Gaddafi went unchecked

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Nicolas Sarkozy with then-president François Hollande at a ceremony marking V-E Day on May 8th 2013. © Reuters Nicolas Sarkozy with then-president François Hollande at a ceremony marking V-E Day on May 8th 2013. © Reuters

The placing under investigation of Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday for corruption, embezzling public funds and illegal electoral funding by the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi has come about as the judicial investigation is in its fifth year, and seven years after Mediapart first revealed the former conservative president’s dealings with Tripoli. During the entire period, which includes five years of socialist government, the political powers have regularly turned their backs on the disturbing questions raised by the mounting evidence of Sarkozy’s dubious relations with the dictator, and also the circumstances of France’s subsequent military intervention in Libya, to the point of dismissing repeated calls for a parliamentary inquiry. Antton Rouget reports.

How French luxury goods group Kering dodged 2.5bn euros in tax

By and Vittorio Malagutti (L'Espresso) et Esther Rosenberg (NRC Handelsblad)
Kering group chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. © Reuters Kering group chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. © Reuters

Since 2002, French luxury goods and clothing group Kering, whose brands include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga, has avoided paying a total of about 2.5 billion euros in tax payments on earnings, mostly to the detriment of the Italian public purse but also that in France and in Britain, according to confidential documents obtained by Mediapart and analysed together with its media partners in the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) journalistic consortium. Yann Philippin (Mediapart), Vittorio Malagutti (L'Espresso) et Esther Rosenberg (NRC Handelsblad) report.

The Mediapart symposium: 'Truth in the digital age'

Vendredi 16 Mars 2018 pour les 10 ans de Mediapart : Colloque international - Le droit de savoir © Mediapart

As part of the many events marking its 10th anniversary this month, Mediapart organised an international symposium on March 16th to debate and examine the many challenges, the new possibilities and the new obstacles, for truthful reporting and information gathering in the digital age. The debates, which were broadcast here live with simultaneous translation in English on Friday afternoon, brought together journalists and experts with a special insight into the questions about serving the public’s right to know, the fundamental issue which has been at the heart of Mediapart’s initial project and also its mission over the past decade (click on headline for more details on inside page, click on screen for the replay).

Angry French pensioners revolt over hike in social contributions payments

French pensioners held nationwide protests on Thursday over a recent rise in a levy imposed on them to fund the country’s social security system, and which for many represents a yearly loss of several hundred euros. The demonstrations were organised by a united front of pensioners’ unions, who dismiss the government’s argument that the rise is necessary to finance a reduction in social security payments by young workers, what it calls a gesture of “inter-generational solidarity”. While the pensioners’ protest movement shows no signs of abating, some MPs among the ranks of Macron’s normally loyal LREM party have begun voicing their unease over the measure. Manuel Jardinaud, Mathilde Goanec and Romaric Godin report.   

The financial 'hold-up' threatening France's Yellow Pages workers

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Members of the inter-union group representing staff at SoLocal, owners of France's 'Yellow Pages', at La Défense in Paris, March 9th, 2018. Members of the inter-union group representing staff at SoLocal, owners of France's 'Yellow Pages', at La Défense in Paris, March 9th, 2018.

The group SoLocal, which owns the well-known Pages Jaunes or Yellow Pages business directory in France, has announced it is to shed a thousand jobs out of a total workforce of 4,400. Executives claim this is part of the necessary move from paper format to online directory. But workers and unions say this is a smokescreen and that most of its directory work has been online for years. Instead they claim they are the victims of a financial plan designed solely to satisfy the group's shareholders. Dan Israel reports.

Macron plays public opinion card against his critics

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President Emmanuel Macron and a chicken at the Paris farm show, the Salon de l’Agriculture, February 24th, 2018. © Reuters President Emmanuel Macron and a chicken at the Paris farm show, the Salon de l’Agriculture, February 24th, 2018. © Reuters

Emmanuel Macron has always insisted he is not worried about opinion polls and that, as head of state, he is willing to court unpopularity to do what he considers right for France. That has not stopped him basing his political strategy around what the public says, sometimes playing off the polls against critics of his reforms – even if that risks dividing the French people. Ellen Salvi looks at the French president's approach to public opinion.

France's plans to deal with Islamic State's 'child assassins'

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Image from an Islamic State propaganda video broadcast in December 2016. © DR Image from an Islamic State propaganda video broadcast in December 2016. © DR

A jihadist from Toulouse in south-west France who fought in Syria has claimed that Islamic State has been planning attacks to be carried out by children in Europe. Though only one suspicious case has been found among the 70 or so minors who have returned to France from the Syria and Iraq battle zones so far, the French authorities are taking the threat seriously. According to Mediapart's information, children aged as young as 13 could be placed in custody when they arrive in France from that region. Matthieu Suc reports.

Foreign minister used French diplomatic service to 'help grandsons get school places'

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Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is one of the key figures in President Emmanuel Macron's government. © Reuters Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is one of the key figures in President Emmanuel Macron's government. © Reuters

At the start of the new school year in 2017 two teenage boys were able to take up places in the prestigious French lycée in Barcelona, even though their applications had missed the deadline. Meanwhile the school had to turn down applications from hundreds of other pupils that year. But these two particular teenagers were fortunate enough to have had the support of their grandfather Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's foreign minister. His private office intervened directly and a visit to the school by the minister was offered as a potential incentive for allowing the children to get in. Antton Rouget reports.

Front National and EU allies face €427,000 bill over 'non-compliant' expenses

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The Front National's Marine Le Pen and her European allies at Koblenz in Germany, January 21st, 2017. © Reuters The Front National's Marine Le Pen and her European allies at Koblenz in Germany, January 21st, 2017. © Reuters

The European Parliament is poised to launch proceedings to reclaim “non-compliant” expenses from the far-right parliamentary grouping that includes France's Front National, Mediapart has learnt. The total amount of the expenses involved, which include “unreasonable” claims of meals costing 400 euros a person, and the purchase of 228 bottles of champagne as gifts, comes to 427,000 euros. Ludovic Lamant and Marine Turchi report.