How French insurance group April used Maltese law to avoid 28 million euros in tax

By Yann Philippin et Sylvain Morvan (Mediacités)
malte-dossier

Last month an investigation in which Mediapart was a partner showed how three key players in the French economy, Renault, Peugeot-Citroën and Auchan, used lax laws in Malta to reduce their tax bill in France. Now, other documents in the Malta Files investigation reveal that Groupe April, an insurance firm created by entrepreneur Bruno Rousset 30 years ago, is also using the Maltese tax loophole to avoid paying French corporate tax. Rousset has previously publicly stated that he believes his company should serve the “general interest”. Mediapart's Yann Philippin and Sylvain Morvan from investigative website Mediacités report.

The jihadist network on the French island of La Réunion

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For a long time French overseas territories have been spared armed jihadism and the phenomenon of young people heading off for the war zones of Syria and Iraq. But the recent trial in Paris of a young man from La Réunion in the Indian Ocean for a conspiracy to carry out a terrorist act has changed that. The conviction of Naïl Varatchia also challenges the widely-perceived idea that the Muslim community on the island is an example of tolerance. Julien Sartre reports.

How Macron's solemn Versailles address was little more than a campaign speech

President Emmanuel Macron addressing the special Congress at Versailles, July 3rd, 2017. © Capture d'écran France 2 President Emmanuel Macron addressing the special Congress at Versailles, July 3rd, 2017. © Capture d'écran France 2

In a high-profile and highly-unusual speech before both chambers of the French Parliament in the sumptuous surroundings of Versailles on Monday July 3rd, President Emmanuel Macron claimed to be setting the “course” for his presidency. But, says Ellen Salvi, it turned out to be an hour-and-a-half of messages that had already been delivered during his election campaign and he announced little more than a promise of some institutional reforms.

The contradictions of France's new-look National Assembly

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The new Members of Parliament have taken up their seats in the National Assembly following the Parliamentary elections and they consist of new faces, new groups and a new social demographic. Many of them are from a non-political, civic society background, with their own habits, customs and beliefs and bringing with them, too, a desire to circumvent the old political obstacles and delays of the past. But, says Hubert Huertas, this new group may themselves soon end up personifying those very same old political ways.

Why President Macron chose Morocco for his first visit outside Europe

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Emmanuel Macron with the King of Morocco Mohammed VI, right, during the French presdent's visit to Rabat on June 14th, 2017. © Reuters Emmanuel Macron with the King of Morocco Mohammed VI, right, during the French presdent's visit to Rabat on June 14th, 2017. © Reuters

Emmanuel Macron's first visit beyond Europe as French head of state was to Morocco, where anti-corruption protests have caused unprecedented unrest over the past seven months. The visit brought succour to the embattled kingdom but was also a little unsettling for Rabat, which has yet to fully understand the new Macron administration. But it was essentially a trip to signal continuity in Franco-Moroccan relations. Lénaïg Bredoux reports.

Macron seeks to balance Left and Right with new government

The official photo of the new French governemnt, June 2017. © Elysée The official photo of the new French governemnt, June 2017. © Elysée

Following the recent Parliamentary elections President Emmanuel Macron has formed a new government under the same prime minister Édouard Philippe. However, what was supposed to be a minor technical change to the government has become rather larger in scale after the departure of four ministers in response to potential scandals. The result is a government that gives us a glimpse of how the new centrist president intends to balance his administration between the Left and the Right of the political spectrum. Stéphane Alliès, Christophe Gueugneau, Mathieu Magnaudeix and Mathilde Mathieu report.



The top cyclists in pursuit of tax havens

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Belgian cyclist Philippe Gilbert, in lead, who had a company based in Luxembourg. © Quick step Belgian cyclist Philippe Gilbert, in lead, who had a company based in Luxembourg. © Quick step

As the Tour de France gets underway, Mediapart has examined the way that key figures in the world of cycling minimise their tax payments by putting money earned from image rights into companies based in Cyprus, Switzerland or Luxembourg. Some major names such as the Belgian cyclist Philippe Gilbert and the French star Tony Gallopin have taken advantage of this tax route. Antton Rouget reports.

The Panama connection in Cristiano Ronaldo's tax affairs

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo denies trying to evade taxes. © Reuters Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo denies trying to evade taxes. © Reuters

Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is threatening to leave Spain if its justice system proves too troublesome for him over his tax affairs. The Real Madrid star, who faces an investigation into alleged tax evasion, insists that he has acted in good faith and says that all his fiscal arrangements were authorised. To back this claim, he and his advisors point to the fact that the authorities in England had no problem with his fiscal set-up when he played for Manchester United. But according to new documents from the whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks, and revealed here by Mediapart, there are now question marks over this line of defence. Michaël Hajdenberg and Yann Philippin report.

Penelope Fillon: the paper-trail puzzle of 'Lady Discreet'

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Penelope Fillon. © Les Nouvelles de Sablé Penelope Fillon. © Les Nouvelles de Sablé

Former French prime minister François Fillon’s presidential election campaign nosedived after it was alleged that over several years he fraudulently employed his British-born wife Penelope as his parliamentary assistant for which she earned almost 700,000 euros paid out of public funds. While both Fillon, who was until then the lead candidate in the election, and his wife deny the fake job accusations they are currently placed under investigation in an ongoing judicial probe. The couple insist that if there is little evidence of Penelope Fillon’s presence in parliament it is because she was active in her husband’s constituency. Mediapart has carried out a detailed search through local newspaper archives to find trace of her work, and the result offers little support for their claim. Mathilde Mathieu and Antton Rouget report.

How elections debunked myth that France is lurching to the Right

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The hard and far right narrative came undone in France's Parliamentary elections. The hard and far right narrative came undone in France's Parliamentary elections.

The fact that a party that did not even exist just over a year ago has just won an absolute majority in the French National Assembly has inevitably excited surprise among commentators. But, argues Hubert Huertas, one remarkable aspect of the recent presidential and legislative votes has largely gone unnoticed: the death of the notion that French society was on some inevitable path towards the far right. This theory, which was enthusiastically adopted by Nicolas Sarkozy and exemplified by the Front National, has been comprehensively demolished, he says.

The terminal collapse of the French Socialist Party

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Staring at oblivion: Socialist Party leader Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. © Reuters Staring at oblivion: Socialist Party leader Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. © Reuters

The French Socialist Party emerged from last Sunday’s legislative election first round in tatters, dwarfed not only by the massive surge of president Emmanuel Macron’s new centrist party, but also the conservatives, the far-right and, importantly, the radical-left. The results followed its disastrous score in the presidential elections, and it is forecast to be put to the sword in the final round this coming weekend. The party’s debacle is more than a simple election defeat; it signals the end of the road for it as a party of government, argues Fabien Escalona, a specialist in European social democrat movements. In this analysis, he argues that the rare previous examples of parties of Western democracies that have similarly collapsed offer little hope it will ever recover.  

French legislative elections final round: Macron's party wins absolute majority

 © Reuters © Reuters

France went back to the polls on Sunday to choose the 577 members of parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly, in the final, decisive second round of legislative elections. The newly-elected centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s fledgling party La République En Marche (LREM) won a majority of seats (351 with its centre-right allies), but well below what was forecast after its score in the first round. The second-placed conservatives did a little better than expected, while the Socialist Party, with 29 seats, has suffered a humiliating defeat, although it has fared better than the radical-left. The far-right has won eight seats. Importantly, turnout was a record low. Follow the results, reactions and analysis as it happened on the night. Reporting by Graham Tearse and Michael Streeter.

French legislative elections: live reports as Macron party on path to landslide victory

 © Reuters © Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron’s fledgling République En Marche (France on the move) party has convincingly won a majority of votes cast in Sunday’s first round of voting to elect a new parliament. With candidates in many constituencies now facing a second-round playoff next weekend, Macron’s REM party is predicted to win up to 455 seats out of parliament’s total of 577, amid a record low turnout of just one-in-two voters. Estimations place the conservative Les Républicains party far behind in second place, while the radical-left appears to have beaten the score of the Socialist Party which has suffered a humiliating trouncing by the REM in many constituencies. The far-right has failed to match its share of the presidential election vote, with estimates that it will win possibly as few as three seats. Follow here how the events developed through the night, with results and reactions as they came in. Reporting by Graham Tearse and Michael Streeter.

The long shadow of abstention hanging over France's parliamentary elections

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The writing on the wall, to be ignored at a party's peril. © Reuters The writing on the wall, to be ignored at a party's peril. © Reuters

This Sunday’s first round of voting in France’s parliamentary elections is predicted to see newly-elected centrist president Emmanuel Macron’s fledgling party emerge with a resounding lead. But also forecast is a poor, and possibly record-low, turnout. Mediapart political commentator Hubert Huertas argues here that, as usual, the abstention rate will be largely ignored by those who win, and used by those who lose to hide the true significance of their defeat, while in fact it delivers a powerful political message to all parties.

 

Macron party gains promise France's new president crushing powers

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Emmanuel Macron surrounded by his party's candidates, Paris May 13th. © AudreyDufeuSchubert via Twitter Emmanuel Macron surrounded by his party's candidates, Paris May 13th. © AudreyDufeuSchubert via Twitter

French President Emmanuel Macron’s newly founded centrist party La République En Marche (LREM) is forecast to gain as many as 455 out of parliament’s 577 seats in next Sunday’s second and final round of legislative elections. It emerged from the first round this weekend with massive support across the country, to the backdrop of a record low turnout of less than one in two voters. Macron now appears certain to wield a crushing power to enact his promised major structural reforms, and to be completely untied to his electoral alliance with the centre-right MoDem party. Mathieu Magnaudeix and Ellen Salvi report.