On Monday June 15th 2020 a Paris court handed prison sentences to six men found guilty of organising a vast political funding scam involving kickbacks on French weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in what has become known as the 'Karachi Affair'. It was the first time in France that a criminal court has established that a presidential election campaign – in this case involving Édouard Balladur in 1995 – was funded by kickbacks from state arms deals. It is, says Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi, an object lesson in the weaknesses of a democracy in the face of corruption.
A Paris court has handed prison sentences to six men found guilty of organising a vast political funding scam involving kickbacks on French weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The kickbacks, secretly transferred in cash sums, were to finance former French prime minister Édouard Balladur’s 1995 presidential election campaign. The men, who were on Monday given jail terms of between three and five years, include former minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and Nicolas Bazire, a senior executive at luxury goods group LVMH. The verdicts end the financial chapter of what has become known as the “Karachi Affair”, an ongoing judicial saga that centres on the murders of 11 French naval engineers in Pakistan in 2002. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report on the conclusions of the sentencing magistrates.
The European aerospace group is likely to pay large fines to end inquiries by Britain's SFO fraud investigation unit and other authorities.
This week marked ten years since a devastating earthquake hit the impoverished Caribbean state of Haiti, when up to 300,000 people were killed and 1.5 million others were left homeless. The ensuing reconstruction programme drew billions of dollars in aid, but also led to massive corruption. Mediapart co-founder and former editor François Bonnet, who has regularly reported on the tragedy in Haiti, details the fiasco and argues here why a thorough investigation into the gigantic scams must be led under the auspices of the UN, and those found responsible must be prosecuted. Nothing less can restore confidence in international institutions – beginning with the UN itself.
The trial in Paris of Lamine Diack, the 86-year-old Senegalese former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations, and five other defendants on charges of corruption and money laundering in connection with the doping scandal surrounding Russian athletes, has been postponed until June after new documents were provided to the court.
Giant French banking group Société Générale has admitted corrupting Libyan officials under the regime of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi to gain contracts worth more than 2 billion dollars. The scam involved paying vast secret commissions to a businessman intermediary via his offshore company based in Panama. In a 2017 statement recognising its role, the bank said that it “wishes to place on record its regret about the lack of caution of some of its employees”, but documents now obtained by Mediapart suggest the operation may have been validated at the highest level of the group’s management. Fabrice Arfi reports.
The trial of six former high-ranking French government officials accused of taking part in the secret siphoning off of funds from arms sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to finance the presidential election campaign of former prime minister Edouard Balladur has opened in Paris.
Rui Pinto, the Portuguese whistleblower behind the Football Leaks revelations of widespread criminality in the world of professional football, ranging from fraud and tax evasion to match-fixing and political corruption, has been held for more than six months in preventive detention in conditions of solitary confinement in a Lisbon jail. Accused of illegal hacking of documents and attempted extorsion, the 30-year-old faces trial for 147 alleged offences relating to his disclosures of illegal practices in the football business in Portugal. But in a defiant statement, Pinto has slammed the Portuguese prosecution services for ignoring the evidence of corruption he gave them, of protecting those behind it, and of transforming him into “a sort of political prisoner”.
A trial opened in Paris on Monday centred on one of France’s biggest-ever pharmaceutical scandals, so vast and involving so many people that it is expected to last up to seven months. French pharmaceutical firm Servier is accused of hiding the killer side effects of its drug Mediator, a treatment for type-2 diabetes patients, but which was widely prescribed as an appetite suppressant. Up to 2,000 patients are estimated to have died from pulmonary and heart disease caused by Mediator, the dangers of which the drug safety authorities, several of whose members are also standing trial, turned a blind eye to. The scandal was revealed ten years ago by pulmonologist Irène Frachon, whose dogged investigations have seen her ostracised by many in the medical establishment. She talks about her campaign and its aftermath in this interview with Rozenn Le Saint.
Senior public prosecutor François Molins has concluded that former French prime minister Édouard Balladur and the defence minister who served under him, François Léotard, should be sent for trial for siphoning payments from public weapons contracts with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to fund Balladur’s presidential election campaign. Molins’s formal recommendations follow a lengthy judicial investigation into what has become known in France as “the Karachi affair”, a complex and far-reaching alleged corruption scam which surfaced after the murders of 11 French naval engineers in the Pakistani port city in 2002.
Richard Ferrand, president of the French lower house, the National Assembly and who is a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron has been placed under investigation over allegations he benefited improperly from the property deals of a health insurance fund he managed.
French group Bourbon, a leading player in the field of maritime services and engineering support for the offshore oil and gas extraction industry which employs more than 8,000 people worldwide, is facing dire straits. Weighed down by heavy debts, its holding company was this month placed into receivership, while the group and members of its senior management have been sent for trial on charges of corrupting tax officials in Africa. Meanwhile, French junior minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher, who until joining government last October sat on the Bourbon board and presided over its audit committee, denies any responsibility in the group’s current woes. Antton Rouget reports.
Concerns have been raised privately within the French justice system about the involvement of the government and in particular the Élysée in picking the successor to Éliane Houlette as head of the country's national financial crimes prosecution unit, the Parquet National Financier (PNF). This is because the PNF is currently handling two investigations which are particularly sensitive for the presidency. One is into the Russian security contracts involving former Élysée security aide Alexandre Benalla. The other probe is into President Emmanuel Macron's chief of staff Alexis Kohler over an alleged conflict of interest. Fabrice Arfi, Michel Deléan and Antton Rouget report.
An appeal by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy against a decision to prosecute him on charges of corrupting a senior magistrate to obtain information in a legal case concerning him has been rejected, and he is now expected to stand trial within months.