Former French Socialist Party boss caught up in football stadium fraud probe

By Geoffrey Livolsi

The former first secretary of the Socialist Party and one-time presidential hopeful Martine Aubry has recently made a return to national politics in France. In a series of media interventions the mayor of the northern city of Lille has made clear her dismay at the direction taken by François Hollande's socialist government. But Aubry's return to frontline politics could yet be overshadowed by a judicial investigation into how a false document was used to justify the award of a multi-million euro contract to build a major sports stadium in Lille that will feature in the Euro 2016 football tournament. Though the investigation was recently and unexpectedly closed, Mediapart can now reveal the existence of an embarrassing letter written by Martine Aubry that shows she passed on the fraudulent document to councillors. Geoffrey Livolsi reports.

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In recent weeks Martine Aubry has stepped back into the political limelight. The former first secretary of the Socialist Party has publicly sparred with prime minister Manuel Valls and made apparent her dismay with the performance and direction of President François Hollande's government. In July Aubry, who is mayor of Lille in northern France and who was beaten by Hollande in her bid to be the party’s presidential candidate, pointedly said that it was “not too late” for this presidency to be a “success”, making it clear she thinks that so far it has been anything but.

But Aubry's return to the front ranks of French politics could be overshadowed by a judicial investigation into the awarding of a lucrative construction contract to build the Grand Stade de Lille sports stadium - now known as the Stade Pierre-Mauroy – which will be a key venue in the Euro 2016 football tournament in France. On February 1st, 2008, 82% of councillors at a plenary session of the greater Lille council, the Lille Métropole Communauté urbaine (LMCU), voted to award the contract to construction group Eiffage for 440 million euros. This decision was supposedly made on the basis of a new technical evaluation report from council officials stating that Eiffage had produced the best bid.