The French public prosecution services have opened an investigation into corruption allegations against President Emmanuel Macron's chief of staff, Alexis Kohler, which centre on suspected conflict of interest and influence peddling over his close connections with a major shipping company while serving as a senior civil servant.
A French court on Friday handed Teodorin Obiang, vice-president of Equatorial Guinea and son of the country’s president, a three-year suspended prison sentence and a suspended fine of 30 million euros after he was found guilty in absentia of money laundering wealth embezzled from the African state’s public funds. The presiding magistrates, who in their ruling underlined the initial reticence of French prosecutors to bring Obiang to trial, also ordered the confiscation of his assets in France, estimated to be worth 150 million euros, including a vast Paris townhouse and a fleet of luxurious cars. Michel Deléan reports.
Prosecutors in the north-west town of Brest have wound down their investigation into former Socialist Party member Richard Ferrand, a key figure behind Emmanuel Macron's succesful bid for the French presidency, who was forced to stand down from government in June after the probe was opened into allegations he used his position as head of a local public health trust to hand his partner a lucrative property deal.
A joint investigation by Mediapart and German weekly Der Spiegel reveals here how Airbus Group chief executive Thomas Enders has become personally implicated in allegations that the aerospace giant created a slush fund to pay intermediaries secret commissions, and “sweeteners” to politicians, in order to obtain a contract for the sale of 18 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Austria. Martine Orange, Yann Philippin and Lea Fauth report.
Justice minister François Bayrou presented a cabinet meeting on Wednesday with his bill of law to introduce greater probity in political life, just as he and his centrist party is caught up in an allegations of fraud over the misuse of European Parliament funds, and another minister battles accusations of favouritism in past business activities.
Lawyer Robert Bourgi, 72, is a veteran figure of “la Françafrique”, the once-rife secret and corrupt network of relations between successive French and despotic African governments, which included the illegal funding of French politicians and parties in return for favours and protection. His name resurfaced last month in the scandal-hit presidential election campaign of conservative candidate François Fillon, when Bourgi revealed it was he who offered Fillon two expensive tailor-made suits, raising further questions over Fillon’s probity and political independence. In this interview from Beirut, where he is sitting out the rest of the election campaign, Bourgi gave Mediapart his version of his relationship with Fillon, who he says asked him to deny being a benefactor, and lifts the lid on the murky practices in French politics. His account offers an insight into decades of political corruption.
The scandals hanging over this spring’s French presidential elections highlight the endemic problems of corruption across the French political class which has been steeped in sleaze for decades. In this interview with Mediapart, two veteran and emblematic figures of the fight against corruption, former investigating magistrate Eva Joly and former public prosecutor Éric de Montgolfier, set out why they believe the problem has flourished for so long and what measures must be taken to effectively tackle it.
The extent of political and financial corruption in France has been highlighted by the scandal-plagued French presidential elections, with two of the frontrunning candidates, conservative nominee François Fillon and the far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, engulfed in graft accusations. Following the case of Jérôme Cahuzac, the socialist budget minister tax-fraud tsar who, Mediapart revealed, held a secret foreign bank account over two decades, several new anti-corruption agencies were created to fight a seemingly endemic problem. But, in a series of interviews with Mediapart, investigators and magistrates denounce a dire and crippling lack of resources.
A book published in France this week presents a long series of ‘fireside’ conversations over several years between President François Hollande and two journalists from French daily Le Monde . The book, Un président ne devrait pas dire ça (“A president shouldn’t say that…”), has caused a storm of controversy, notably over Hollande’s attacks on the “cowardly” higher ranks of the French judiciary and which prompted an embarrassed admission of "regret" by the president on Friday over his comments. But, Mediapart investigative journalists Fabrice Arfi and Mathilde Mathieu argue here, the book is especially revelatory of Hollande’s surprising approach to the catalogue of corruption scams which have shaken the French political establishment over recent years. For he evidently regards them more in terms of their electoral consequences or the negative fallout upon himself than scandals that raise grave concern over the absence of probity in French politics.
Teodorin Obiang, 47, will be tried by a Paris court on charges including corruption, money-laundering and embezzlement of public funds.
The trial of the former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac for tax fraud and money laundering opened in Paris on Monday, the same day that it was revealed that French prosecutors want former president Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial for “illegal financing” of his 2012 election campaign. Mediapart investigative reporter Fabrice Arfi says that such high-profile cases give us an insight into the ethics of public life in France. He argues that rather than simply looking the other way, the country needs to own up to the shameful nature of the situation.
Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday announced to little surprise that he is standing in the primary elections of his conservative Républicains party this November in the hope of becoming its candidate in next year’s presidential elections. But the former president’s re-election bid is marred by his implication in several judicial investigations, two of which are likely to see him sent for trial. Michel Deléan and Mathilde Mathieu detail the long list of Sarkozy’s judicial woes, and the prospect of his election gamble to avoid prosecution.
Former French president and now conservative opposition party leader Nicolas Sarkozy was this week placed under investigation – a restrictive legal status one step short of being charged – for his role in the suspected illegal financing of his failed re-election campaign in 2012. Sarkozy is also under investigation for corruption in a separate case, and his hopes of a new bid for the presidency in 2017 now appear seriously damaged. But, as Fabrice Arfi details here, behind Sarkozy’s personal judicial woes are also those of no less than 32 of his close allies who have been either convicted or placed under investigation in a series of cases centring on corruption, money laundering, fraud and influence peddling.
Mediapart has gained access to a detailed account of the annual payments made to former French presidents and prime ministers in a lifelong system of perks and privileges that beggars belief. With items ranging from newspaper and dry-cleaning costs to the payment of staff, offices and vehicles, the country’s three surviving former heads of state cost the taxpayer a yearly 6.2 million euros. Former prime ministers, meanwhile, receive tens of thousands of euros annually for staff and vehicles, including one who left office 25 years ago. Mathilde Mathieu reports.