Election corruption claims: how the 'Dassault System' worked

France — Investigation

The billionaire French industrialist Serge Dassault, who was caught on tape saying he paid money to 'buy' an election, is to appear before examining magistrates next month as a witness in an investigation into the attempted murder of the two men who made that recording. Meanwhile a participant in the alleged electoral corruption that Dassault is said to have created speaks exclusively to Mediapart about how the 'system' worked. In doing so he makes a plea for the judicial authorities to help him – claiming his life is now in danger. Pascale Pascariello reports.

The tentacular Bettencourt affair, from high-society feud to affair of state


The Bettencourt affair has reached an unprecedented scope among the many scandals that have rocked France in recent decades. As a judicial ruling ordering the censorship of Mediapart’s reporting of the scandal kicks in this Monday evening, Michel Deléan dresses a summary of the  judicial investigations into the affair which, over the past three years, have exposed a bed of political corruption and influence peddling, a record back payment in taxes on assets secretly stashed abroad, not to mention the outrageous antics of a high-society cabal and the sordid exploitation of one of Europe’s wealthiest individuals.

Finally revealed: the French government rich list

France — Link

The declarations by each French minister shows a mixed bag of comfortable fortunes, led by foreign minister's assets worth 6 million euros.

'Grey income takes the blue from the sky': how ordinary Chinese cope with the everyday reality of corruption

International — Report

The pollution that dominates the skies above the Chinese capital Beijing has been blamed on many things – too many cars, too many building sites, not enough wind. But for some locals the real cause is corruption. Payments by polluting firms ensure that the inspectors simply do not inspect them. Indeed, the issue of so-called 'grey' or undeclared income has become a huge one across the country. Anyone who is able to get involved does so; secretaries ordering takeaway meals for their bosses, minor civil servants who rent out their homes a slum landlords, even teachers at music schools. As Jordan Pouille reports from Beijing, there are now growing calls for the public to have a say in stamping out corruption.

Curtain stays drawn on Paris suburbs' town hall graft scandal

France — Investigation

The mayors of several towns in the southern suburbs of Paris at the centre of a suspected corruption scam involving allegations of the fixing of public procurement contracts, bribes and influence peddling have still not been questioned by police who opened an official investigation into the graft claims more than five years ago. The allegations, including threats of violence, mystery gifts of luxury vehicles, holidays between mayors and those they award contracts to, paint a disturbing picture of connivance and graft, and raise serious questions about why the official investigation has stalled. Karl Laske reports.

Time to scrap France's anti-crime squads?


France's police anti-crime squads were set up to help combat street crime. But have they themselves become part of the problem? Driven by a target-setting culture, coming into contact with large-scale drug trafficking, co-opting their own members and subject to only limited management oversight, they seem almost programmed to crash out of control. Even before the emergence of a recent anti-crime squad corruption scandal in Marseille involving drugs, the positive impact of these police units in France's run-down estates was far from clear. Louise Fessard reports.

Schooled for scandal: the 'affairs' of the French Left

France — Analysis

Mediapart’s revelations that French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac held for many years a secret Swiss bank account has met with either hostile reaction or embarrassed silence among his colleagues in the Socialist Party. While it is inflexible and demanding in its approach to scandals involving the Right, the Left has often demonstrated an unwillingness to face up to those other scandals in its own midst, argues here Mediapart legal affairs specialist Michel Deléan, who catalogues a (non-exhaustive) history of scams that have undermined previous socialist governments.

Kostas Vaxevanis: list of Greek accounts in Switzerland 'just the tip of the iceberg'

International — Interview

Greek journalist Kostas Vaxevanis was finally acquitted last week by an Athens court of charges of violation of privacy and data protection laws, brought after the magazine he edits, Hot Doc, published a list of the names of more than 2,000 wealthy Greek individuals and companies with secret bank accounts in Switzerland. Shortly before his acquittal, Vaxevanis was interviewed by Amélie Poinssot, when he explained why he decided to publish the list, how he received it and who is on it, and what the whole affair says about the state of journalism in Greece.

France investigates Marseille anti-crime squad police

France — Link

At least 12 members of 'anti-crime' sqaud arrested after claims that they stole drugs and cash from drug dealers and cigarettes from illicit sellers.

Sarkozy/Kadhafi: les avocats de Mediapart demandent l'audition de Baghdadi


Trois jours après l’extradition de l’ancien premier ministre libyen, les avocats de Mediapart ont demandé au procureur de la République de Paris, que la justice française procède à son « audition », à Tripoli, sur les soupçons de financements occultes de Nicolas Sarkozy. En Libye, les avocats de Baghdadi n'arrivent plus à le joindre depuis dimanche.

Sarkozy hit with complaint over Karachi affair

International — Link

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is targeted by a formal legal complaint in the 'Karachi Affair' corruption case involving arms sales abroad.

Investigation targets L'Oréal heiress Bettencourt's 'protector' over 143m-euro deal she can't remember


Magistrates investigating a suspected gigantic web of corruption spun around the financial affairs of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt on Wednesday placed a lawyer in charge of her wealth investments under formal investigation for taking advantage of the 89 year-old matriarch’s diminished mental faculties. Pascal Wilhelm, appointed as a legal protector of Bettencourt’s financial interests, is the second of her wealth managers to be suspected of corruption. The case notably involves an investment he organised of 143 million euros of the matriarch’s private fortune in a company owned by reality TV show and online gambling entrepreneur Stéphane Courbit, which Bettencourt cannot remember making. Michel Deléan reports.

Conviction from the past haunts 'honest' French PM Ayrault


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.

Former French president Jacques Chirac found guilty of Paris City Hall corruption scam


Former French President Jacques Chirac (pictured) was on Thursday given a two-year suspended prison sentence for embezzling public funds when he was mayor of Paris to finance his political party and advisors for his presidential election campaign strategy. Chirac, 79, is the second French head of state to be tried by a court of justice, after the country's wartime collaborationist Vichy government leader, Marshal Philippe Pétain, in 1945. Michel Deléan reports.

High-living African heads face French fraud investigation


In what has been hailed as a "historic" ruling, France's highest Court of Appeal this month ordered that three African leaders and their entourage can now be investigated by an independant French magistrate for embezzlement and misuse of public funds in the form of their assets in France, ranging from fast cars to grand mansions.