Already detained in jail over a previous conviction for misuse of public funds, Claude Guéant, a former interior minister and longstanding chief-of-staff for ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was on Friday handed a one-year prison sentence, with four months suspended, for his part in an Élysée Palace opinion survey fraud worth a combined 7.5 million euros, for which three others were also convicted.
Stéphane Richard, CEO of French telecoms giant Orange, has been handed a suspended jail sentence after he was found guilty by a Paris appeals court of aiding and abetting the misuse of public funds in a case centered on a 403-million-euro state payout awarded in 2008 to late French tycoon Bernard Tapie.
In 2010 the former Société Générale employee was convicted in relation to a series of trades that cost the bank up to 4.9 billion euros. Last year the ex-trader lost an appeal against his three-year jail sentence. However, the saga continues. On 4th July Kerviel, who has always insisted his bosses knew what he was doing, will take his former employer to an industrial tribunal seeking 4.9 billion euros in damages – equal to the sum he is said to have lost the bank. His lawyer has meanwhile made a formal complaint alleging forgery and use of false documents. In particular the trader’s legal team has highlighted some curious discrepancies in the recordings made when Kerviel was questioned by his bank superiors as his huge losses became clear; recordings that went on to form the basis of the evidence that convicted him. Martine Orange investigates.
French President François Hollande pledged during his election campaign to clean up French political governance, blighted by years of recurrent scandals and conflicts of interest. Among the promises he made was that anyone who had been convicted of crimes would be excluded from government. Yet Hollande’s first act after he was sworn in was to appoint Jean-Marc Ayrault as his prime minister who, when mayor of Nantes in 1997, received a suspended prison sentence for favouritism in the allocation of a city hall contract, described by a court of audit as “a serious infringement of the rules governing public contracts”. While Ayrault insists that “my personal integrity was never in question”, his lawyers argue that he has been legally rehabilitated and have threatened to sue those who engage in “character defamation” by publicly raising the affair. Mathilde Mathieu and Michel Deléan report.
by Mathilde Mathieu and Michel Deléan
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