French crypto investors file complaint against Binance over 2.4m-euro losses

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 © Document Mediapart © Document Mediapart

A group of 15 French cryptocurrency investors have filed a legal complaint against Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, which they accuse of marketing its services in France before it received official approval to do so, of using misleading commercial practices and receiving the proceeds of fraud. The complaint by the group, who claim losses of close to 2.4 million euros in transactions via the platform, is the first of its kind in France involving the highly speculative and volatile sector of digital assets. Laurent Mauduit reports.

EU parliament scandal: Morocco spared by MEPs but probe closes in

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Moroccan envoy Abderrahim Atmoun with now-detained former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri and his assistant Francesco Giorgi, May 2017 © Capture Facebook AA. Moroccan envoy Abderrahim Atmoun with now-detained former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri and his assistant Francesco Giorgi, May 2017 © Capture Facebook AA.

Revelations in the so-called “Qatargate” corruption scandal engulfing the European Parliament this month, involving past and present members of the chamber, including its former vice-president, are snowballing. While the Belgian authorities continue investigations into those implicated in an alleged Qatari slush-fund used to buy favours from EU lawmakers, MEPs have suspended all legislative work in connection with Qatar, and withdrawn access to the institution by the Gulf State’s representatives. But they shied from including Morocco in the sanctions, despite growing evidence of its involvement in the influence peddling. Mediapart's European affairs correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.  

The 'new wave' Bleus of the Mbappé generation

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Happier times: France team players in Qatar earlier in December 2022. © Photo Franck Fife / AFP. Happier times: France team players in Qatar earlier in December 2022. © Photo Franck Fife / AFP.

The French national football team, les Bleus, lost to Argentina in the World Cup final in Qatar on Sunday, in a thrilling game that ended in breathless manner. But while the young squad may have the blues at losing their bid for world football's ultimate crown, the new "Mbappé generation" have already surpassed their elders in the matter of popping the apolitical bubble surrounding French football, and in challenging its conservative governing federation. Ilyes Ramdani reports.  

French judge applauds outcry over graphic novelist’s child-sex themes

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Judge Édouard Durand. © Photo Martin Bureau / AFP Judge Édouard Durand. © Photo Martin Bureau / AFP

The prestigious Angoulème International Comics Festival has cancelled its planned showcasing in January of the works of acclaimed French graphic novel artist Bastien Vivès, following strong protest that some of his works promote paedophilia and incest, which he denies. In an interview with Mediapart, French magistrate Édouard Durand, co-president of a newly created “independent commission on incest and sexual violence towards children”, says the outcry illustrates a new public awareness about the extent of the sexual abuse of children, and says cartoon portrayal of the subject is “unbearable for all child victims and the adults they have become, unbearable for everyone who understand what they live through”.

When compulsory education in French schools no longer seems quite so compulsory

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A primary school in Paris, September 2022. © Photo Corinne Simon / Hans Lucas via AFP A primary school in Paris, September 2022. © Photo Corinne Simon / Hans Lucas via AFP

Ministers have made it clear that some schools may have to close in the mornings this winter if France undergoes selective power cuts to cope with energy demand. Coming three years after the first Covid lockdowns, when schools were systematically closed, this policy once again raises questions over the priority being given to ensuring that France's schools remain open and that pupils keep learning. In this op-ed article, Mediapart's education correspondent Mathilde Goanec argues that the universal principle of compulsory education for all is now coming under constant attack.

Libyan diplomat faces Paris probe over operation to 'save Sarko' over election funding affair

Hannibal Gaddafi and Nicolas Sarkozy. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart Hannibal Gaddafi and Nicolas Sarkozy. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

A Libyan diplomat with links to the French secret services has been placed under investigation for the “corruption of foreign judicial personnel”. He has admitted acting as a middleman to try to obtain the release of one of the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi's sons from a Beirut jail in order to serve the interests of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

 

The murky saga involving Qatar, French football club PSG and an alleged €100m blackmail bid

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The lobbyist Tayeb Benabderrahmane. © LinkedIn de Tayeb Benabderrahmane. The lobbyist Tayeb Benabderrahmane. © LinkedIn de Tayeb Benabderrahmane.

It is the latest development in a complex affair involving the French football club Paris Saint-Germain, the state of Qatar, a lobbyist, a former French intelligence agent and accusations of illicit espionage. The lobbyist in question, Franco-Algerian businessman Tayeb Benabderrahmane, was arrested and detained for several months in Doha in 2020 after having obtained confidential information belonging to the PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi. Tayeb Benabderrahmane was later able to leave Qatar after reportedly signing a secret agreement and handing over all the information he possessed. However, according to a document seen by Mediapart, the lobbyist had kept hold of some of the confidential information on the PSG boss and wanted to ask for 100 million euros from the emirate, who own PSG, in return for his silence. Tayeb Benabderrahmane, who faces separate allegations involving private and illicit investigations on behalf of the football club, denies all the claims. Yann Philippin reports.

Why convicted French politicians nearly always escape going to jail

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Convicted mayor Patrick Balkany leaving the La Santé prison in Paris, February 12th 2020. © Photo François Guillot / AFP Convicted mayor Patrick Balkany leaving the La Santé prison in Paris, February 12th 2020. © Photo François Guillot / AFP

On Monday December 5th former French president Nicolas Sarkozy began an appeal hearing following his conviction for corruption in the so-called 'Paul Bismuth' or phone-tapping case. At the original trial the ex-head of state was given a jail sentence but has not served a single night in prison. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan explains why it is that French politicians who are convicted in corruption cases so very rarely serve jail time despite the heavy prison sentences that such offences can attract.

Close associate of Lebanese central bank boss faces money laundering probe in Paris

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Riad Salamé in his office at the Lebanese central bank in Beirut, December 20th 2021. © Photo Joseph Eid / AFP Riad Salamé in his office at the Lebanese central bank in Beirut, December 20th 2021. © Photo Joseph Eid / AFP

Anna Kosakova, the  girlfriend of Riad Salamé, governor of the Banque du Liban, is suspected of having benefited from funds that were misappropriated from Lebanon's central bank. She has been placed under formal investigation by a judge in Paris for “criminal conspiracy” and “money laundering”. According to the investigation, up to to 246 million dollars were transferred to personal bank accounts belonging to the governor's brother.  In particular, judges are looking at the purchase of a number of commercial properties in central Paris which were then managed by the central banker's girlfriend. Karl Laske reports.

 

The troubling unofficial role of a senior French minister's partner

Agnès Pannier-Runacher and Nicolas Bays in the Élysée courtyard during Emmanuel Macron's investiture as president on May 7th 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart Agnès Pannier-Runacher and Nicolas Bays in the Élysée courtyard during Emmanuel Macron's investiture as president on May 7th 2022. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

A number of officials at the Ministry for Energy Transition, which is headed by Agnès Pannier-Runacher, are said to be at the end of their tether. The minister's partner Nicolas Bays, who has no title or role there, is reported to have constantly intervened to give orders or put pressure on ministerial staff. In addition, several former Parliamentary staff have told Mediapart that they were victims of inappropriate gestures made by Nicolas Bays at the National Assembly several years ago when he was a Member of Parliament. He denies the allegations. Lénaïg Bredoux, Antton Rouget and Ellen Salvi report.

The freedom to inform wins as court lifts gagging order on Mediapart

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Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne and president of the Saint-Étienne metropolitan district, September 24th 2021. © Vero Martin / Hans Lucas via AFP Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne and president of the Saint-Étienne metropolitan district, September 24th 2021. © Vero Martin / Hans Lucas via AFP

After twelve days of unprecedented censorship, a court in Paris has overturned the gagging order that had banned Mediapart from publishing an investigation into the political practices of Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne. The injunction was granted on November 18th following an ex parte application by the mayor's lawyer. As it was an ex parte application – meaning that only the applicant's side was present - Mediapart was not informed of it and was thus not present to defend its case. That injunction was widely condemned, with the broad-left political coalition NUPES describing it as “incomprehensible”. Now, on Wednesday November 30th, the same judge who made the first ruling has overturned her own verdict, stating that she had been misinformed by Perdriau's lawyer at the initial application. Fabrice Arfi reports on this victory for the freedom of the press.

Mykolaiv and Dnipro: a tale of two cities under attack

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November 27th 2022: the crater and destruction left by a Russian missile strike on homes in Dnipro. © Igor Ishchuk for Mediapart November 27th 2022: the crater and destruction left by a Russian missile strike on homes in Dnipro. © Igor Ishchuk for Mediapart

The true toll of civilian casualties in the war in Ukraine remains unclear, with estimates ranging from 17,000 dead and wounded (according to UN figures) to more than 40,000 dead (according to the US military). Following Ukraine’s recapture earlier this month of the southern city of Kherson, Russia has intensified its missile strikes across the country, many of them landing on civilian areas. Mediapart’s Mathilde Goanec reports here from two cities targeted by the attacks: Mykolaiv, in the south-east, close to the Black Sea, and Dnipro, in the centre-south.

2021 Channel tragedy: one man’s quest to know why rescuers let his brother die

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Twana Mamand Mohammad, 18, lost in the Channel in November 2021. © DR Twana Mamand Mohammad, 18, lost in the Channel in November 2021. © DR

On November 24th last year, an inflatable dinghy carrying at least 33 migrants across the Channel from France to England took on water and sank, leaving just two survivors. The bodies of 27 people were recovered, and at least four others were never found, including that of the 18-year-old brother of Zana Mamand Mohammad. He travelled to Paris from Iraq this month to meet with French investigators who have established that rescue services were repeatedly called for help, but failed to respond. “How could the French and English authorities have left children, women and men die at sea while for hours they had raised the alarm about their sinking?” he asked in an interview with Mediapart. 

Outrage over judge’s gagging order against Mediapart investigation

 © Illustration Simon Toupet / Mediapart © Illustration Simon Toupet / Mediapart

Following the extraordinary gagging order issued by a Paris judge last Friday to prevent Mediapart from publishing a report on a serious political scandal surrounding Gaël Perdriau, mayor of the French town of Saint-Étienne, numerous fellow journalists, the legal profession, rights groups and cross-party members of both houses of the French parliament have expressed their outrage.

Judge slaps gagging order on Mediapart investigation

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A Paris judge has imposed a gagging order on Mediapart which prohibits it from publishing new revelations in its investigation into the highly questionable political practices of Gaël Perdriau, mayor of Saint-Étienne. The Mediapart investigation has previously revealed the blackmailing of the town’s deputy mayor, a rival of Perdriau's, using a compromising ‘sex tape’ video. As Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel details here, the gagging order, which was made at the request of Perdriau and without allowing Mediapart any legal opportunity to oppose it, is an unprecedented attack against the freedom of the press in France.