In this second of a three-part series of investigations into the controversial sale by France to India of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, Mediapart details how the then head of the French public prosecution services’ financial crimes branch, Éliane Houlette, shelved investigations into evidence of corruption behind the deal, despite the contrary opinion of her colleagues. France’s current president, Emmanuel Macron, and his predecessor, François Hollande, are cited in the allegations levelled in the case. Houlette has since justified her decision as preserving “the interests of France, the workings of institutions”. Yann Philippin reports.
In 2014 prosecutors from France's financial crimes prosecution unit the Parquet National Financier (PNF) wanted to discover the identity of the 'mole' inside the legal world who had tipped off Nicolas Sarkozy that his phones were being tapped as part of what became known as the 'Bismuth' affair. When details of this hunt were revealed by Le Point magazine it caused an outcry among many top lawyers - including defence lawyer Éric Dupond-Moretti who is now the minister of justice - and an investigation was launched into the actions of the PNF. At the time, many in the former president's entourage felt the revelations proved there was a sustained attempt to discredit him. But the Ministry's of Justice's inspectorate which investigated the affair has just reported, and finds that the PNF's actions were legal and proper. As Fabrice Arfi and Michel Deléan report, the report's verdict will be seen as a setback for the ex-head of state
The French financial crimes prosecution unit the Parquet National Financier (PNF) has written to the Portuguese authorities asking to question the Football Leaks whistleblower Rui Pinto. They also want full access to the 70 million or so confidential documents that he has obtained on the world of professional football. Pinto is currently on trial in Portugal charged with computer hacking, violation of private correspondence and attempted blackmail, which together carry a possible jail term of 25 years. The move by the French prosecutors is good news for Pinto, however, as it supports his claim that his sole motive was to expose corruption and fraud in the sport. Yann Philippin reports.
Mediapart can reveal the contents of phone taps and two reports by gendarmes that led to serious questions over the conduct of Éliane Houlette, then head of France's anti-corruption prosecution unit the Parquet National Financier (PNF). Those reports led to the Paris prosecutor calling for a preliminary investigation into allegations of “influence peddling”, “collusion” and “breach of confidentiality” concerning Éliane Houlette, who stood down as head of the PNF in June 2019 having been its boss since its creation in 2013. However, though prosecutors eventually opened a preliminary probe in September 2019 for “breach of confidentiality” in an ongoing investigation, progress in this potentially explosive case seems to have ground to a halt. Fabrice Arfi, Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget report.
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.
by Fabrice Arfi, Michel Deléan and Antton Rouget
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