Phone tap reveals panic of Lafarge shareholders over Islamic State funding affair

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Bruno Lafont when he was CEO of Lafarge, on February 18th, 2015. © Reuters Bruno Lafont when he was CEO of Lafarge, on February 18th, 2015. © Reuters

An intercepted telephone call involving the former boss of French cement firm Lafarge, which is accused of funding terrorist group Islamic State to keep its Syrian cement plant in production, shows the extend of the “worry” that has gripped the company, which has since become a Franco-Swiss multinational. Just how far – and to whom – will the current judicial investigation extend? Fabrice Arfi reports.

Why French tycoon Vincent Bolloré faces probe over African business practices

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Vincent Bolloré with President Nicolas Sarkozy in March 2008. © Reuters Vincent Bolloré with President Nicolas Sarkozy in March 2008. © Reuters

The French businessman Vincent Bolloré has been placed under formal investigation over the alleged corruption of foreign public officials and complicity in corruption. The probe into the well-connected businessman, who has amassed much of his fortune through his dealings in Africa, relates to how one of its companies won the concessions to run the ports at Lomé in Togo and Conakry in Guinea, and the use of his communications firm in the electoral campaigns of African leaders. Martine Orange gives the background to the allegations.

French diocese faces two paedophile priest scandals

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Under investigation: Father Olivier de Scitivaux, right. © DR Under investigation: Father Olivier de Scitivaux, right. © DR

A senior priest in the diocese of Orléans south of Paris has just been placed under formal investigation over claims that he sexually abused a 15-year-old. This follows ongoing allegations against another priest in the same diocese. One victims group thinks the two scandals could be linked and prosecutors fear that many more instances of abuse may be involved and that dozens of young boys could have been victims. Meanwhile senior church figures have been accused of a cover-up or at least turning a blind eye. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports.

Macron leaves home woes behind on trip to charm US

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Emmanuel Macron interviewed by Fox News. © Fox News Emmanuel Macron interviewed by Fox News. © Fox News

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in the United States on Monday for a three-day state visit, the first of its kind by a foreign head-of-state since the election of Donald Trump as president. Mediapart’s US correspondent Mathieu Magnaudeix analyses American perceptions of the French president as a bulwark against the advance of populist politics and an antidote to Trump, who one US media commentator even ventured to describe as “a beacon for progressives hoping to find their way back to the halls of power across the democratic world”.  

How football superstar Ronaldo placed trust in Jersey

By , Rafael Buschmann, Michael Wulzinger and Nicola Naber (Der Spiegel)
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a decisive goal on April 11th that sent his club into the semi-finals of the European Chamions League. © Reuters Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a decisive goal on April 11th that sent his club into the semi-finals of the European Chamions League. © Reuters

Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo, currently under investigation in Spain, where he resides, over his alleged wilful evasion of 14.7 million euros in tax payments between 2011 and 2014, created a trust in Jersey in 2015 from which millions of euros were transferred to a subsidiary in Luxembourg and which did not appear in his 2015 tax declaration, according to confidential documents analysed by Mediapart and its partners in the journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations (EIC). The trust was abruptly wound down last week, just 24 hours after the EIC contacted the footballer and his agent for comment on the documents.

Juncker and MEPs face off in cronyism row over choice of Europe’s top civil servant

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Martin Selmayr (right) with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at the European parliament on March 13th. © Reuters/Vincent Kessler Martin Selmayr (right) with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at the European parliament on March 13th. © Reuters/Vincent Kessler

The highly questionable circumstances of the appointment of German conservative Martin Selmayr as secretary-general of the European Commission, a move initiated by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for whom Selmayr until then served as chief of staff, has been met with outrage within the European Parliament, which on Wednesday adopted a motion describing the promotion as “coup-like” and “which possibly even overstretched the limits of the law”. But it pulled back from demanding Selmayr’s resignation, thereby avoiding a serious institutional crisis. Meanwhile, the commission, accused of blatant cronyism, has refused to compromise and insists Europe’s new top civil servant will remain in the post. Mediapart Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.    

 

French government immigration reform meets fierce crossfire from MPs

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The French government’s proposed legislation to reform immigration and asylum laws has begun its passage through parliament this week, to fierce attacks from opposition MPs of both the Left and the Right. The conservatives, whose policies under their new leader have veered towards the hard-right, claim the bill is little more than soft tinkering of current laws, while the Left denounce an unjustified clampdown on migrants’ rights, a view shared by some among President Macron’s ruling LREM party. Mathilde Mathieu was in parliament to witness the early exchanges of what promises to be a week of inflamed debate.

Mediapart and BFM-TV interview Emmanuel Macron

After almost one year in office, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a live interview on Sunday evening with Mediapart’s cofounder and publishing editor Edwy Plenel and Jean-Jacques Bourdin of French rolling news channel BFM-TV. The wide-ranging two-hour interview, the French president’s first public appearance since France joined the US and Britain in missile strikes this weekend against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, was streamed live on Mediapart (with studio debates from Mediapart before and after the interview) and can be replayed here (click on screen, in French only). Together with the video in French of the full interview, arguably the first uncompromising quizzing of a French head of state, follow the highlights in English here (click on headline for article page).

German intelligence document reports Iraq approved funding of Mitterrand campaign

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François Mitterrand in 1974. François Mitterrand in 1974.

In 1974, the Ba’ath party regime in power in Iraq approved a payment of 1 million dollars to fund the presidential election campaign that year of the late French socialist leader François Mitterrand, according to a document from the intelligence services of the former West Germany, the BND, obtained by Mediapart and German weekly Der Spiegel. The document refers to an intercepted message sent by Baghdad to its embassy in Paris. While it is not known whether Mitterrand’s campaign ever benefited from the reportedly earmarked funds, the BND document raises further questions about the extent of Iraq’s established close and secret relations with French political parties of Left and Right over several decades. Amélie Poinssot reports.

Gaddafi interpreter details Sarkozy's meetings with Libyan dictator

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Moftah Missouri, standing behind Mummar Gaddafi during a meeeting with Nicolas Sarkozy. © DR Moftah Missouri, standing behind Mummar Gaddafi during a meeeting with Nicolas Sarkozy. © DR

In a lengthy interview with Mediapart earlier this month in Tunisia, where he now lives in exile, Moftah Missouri, who served for 15 years as the personal advisor and interpreter of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, details his first-hand knowledge of Nicolas Sarkozy’s confidential dealings with the Gaddafi regime, before and after he became president. Sarkozy was last month placed under formal investigation in a French judicial probe into Gaddafi’s suspected secret funding of his 2007 election campaign, and Missouri, who told Mediapart the Libyan leader confirmed to him in person the illicit financing, says he is willing to testify before the French magistrates.     

Notre-Dame-des-Landes evictions leave collective experiment in ruins

Notre-Dame-des-Landes, Monday April 9th. © JL Notre-Dame-des-Landes, Monday April 9th. © JL

A massive police operation to evict environmental activists occupying farmland in north-west France which was until recently earmarked for the construction of an airport began in the early hours of Monday, marked by violent clashes which left several people injured, and is set to continue through the week. The heavy-handed expulsion of occupants of a number of experimental alternative farming projects on the land at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, during which police used stun grenades and tear gas, was accompanied by the destruction of numerous homes and agricultural installations, including an emblematic collective farm on the site which had hoped to gain official approval for its long-term future.  Christophe Gueugneau and Jade Lindgaard report from Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

The Macron Method exposed as social protests continue

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The Macron Method: union leaders says the government talks a lot but says nothing. © Reuters The Macron Method: union leaders says the government talks a lot but says nothing. © Reuters

On Monday April 9th France's National Assembly is due to begin examining the government's proposed legislation for a “new railway agreement”. Yet the consultations with the unions about this new pact are still going on. Those unions - whose members began the latest round of two-day rail strikes on Sunday April 8th - are now dismissing the talks with the government as a “farce” and intend to step up their action. Their aim is to expose what they see as a deliberate method employed by President Emmanuel Macron's government: one of talking but not saying anything and of listening without hearing. Ellen Salvi examines the workings of the Macron Method.

Inside the 'fortress' camp for Vietnamese migrants heading to UK cannabis farms

By Elisa Perrigueur
The camp dubbed 'Vietnam City' at Angres, 100 kilometres from Calais. © Elisa Perrigueur The camp dubbed 'Vietnam City' at Angres, 100 kilometres from Calais. © Elisa Perrigueur

Each year many Vietnamese migrants arrive in France after trekking across Europe in their long and arduous bid to get to the United Kingdom. For hundreds of them the last stop before their attempt to cross the English Channel is a discreet camp at Angres one hundred kilometres from the Port of Calais and which is known locally as 'Vietnam City'. The camp is controlled by traffickers, who are fiercely protective of their 'prime location' next to the main motorway to the Channel and next to a service station where UK-bound lorries park. But as Elisa Perrigueur reports, even if the Vietnamese migrants do make it to Britain, many will find themselves working as modern day slaves on illegal cannabis farms.

The evidence of how Nicolas Sarkozy served Gaddafi regime's interests

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Standingtogether: Nicolas Sarkozy and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. © Reuters Standingtogether: Nicolas Sarkozy and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. © Reuters

Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been placed under formal investigation for corruption over Libyan funding of his election campaign, has denied claims that he took money as part of a corrupt arrangement with Muammar Gaddafi's regime. He has also sought to rubbish accusations that as part of a corrupt pact he helped further the cause of Libya and some of its key figures. But here Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske detail the evidence showing that the former head of state did indeed serve the interests of Gaddafi's dictatorial regime.

Macron's high-risk spring as he faces worker discontent

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The rail strike will be a big test of Emmanuel Macron's presidency. The rail strike will be a big test of Emmanuel Macron's presidency.

This week is the start of a critical period in Emmanuel Macron's presidency. Workers from the rail industry, Air France and the supermarket chain Carrefour have been taking industrial action while students have held sit-ins at a number of universities. The government says that these various actions with their different causes show an irrational fear of the “new world” that is dawning. In fact, argues Hubert Huertas, these protests stem from a weariness with years of talk about the need for austerity and reform - and they could yet threaten the presidency's power.