The former top cop at the Élysée and his links with the Corsican underworld

By and Brendan Kemmet

The name of senior gendarme officer Lionel Lavergne cropped up during an investigation into a Corsican 'mafia' godfather in 2014, Mediapart has learnt. Yet despite the astonishing contents of phone-taps in the case, that same year the gendarme was appointed number two in charge of protecting the president at the Élysée. When subsequently told by a senior official at the Élysée that he would not get promoted to the top post, Colonel Lavergne retorted: “You don't know who you are dealing with.” He later got the top post, working as head of Élysée security for presidents François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron from 2017 to 2019. Matthieu Suc and Brendan Kemmet report on the results of a Mediapart investigation that goes back five years.

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For a long time the doors remained firmly shut. From senior judicial figures to top police officers, everyone was afraid to talk about it. They had reason to be concerned; for it meant revealing that the hunt for a major figure in Corsican organised crime had led police officers to the doors of the Élysée itself.