The financial crime branch of France’s public prosecution services has widened the remit of a judicial investigation into suspected corruption in a sale of French helicopters to Kazakhstan to include the suspected involvement of France’s intelligence services in a plan to protect a businessman close to the Kazakh president from prosecution in Belgium. The move follows revelations by Mediapart and Belgian daily Le Soir of evidence suggesting the intelligence services were manipulated by officials of the French presidency under Nicolas Sarkozy in order to seal the deal worth a total of 2 billion euros. Yann Philippin reports in collaboration with Mediapart's Belgian press partners in this investigation, Alain Lallemand (Le Soir), Thierry Denoël (Le Vif) and Mark Eeckhaut (De Standaard).
by Yann Philippin and Alain Lallemand (Le Soir), Thierry Denoël (Le Vif) et Mark Eeckhaut (De Standaard)
The 8-billion-euro contract signed in New Delhi on Friday for the supply of 36 French-built Rafale fighter jets has been hailed by Paris as a major coup that underlines the technological prowess of the French aeronautical industry. But, Mediapart’s India correspondent Guillaume Delacroix reports, the deal was struck after France agreed to massive discounts which virtually halve the total cost. But it also marks a new defence strategy by India, which now regards China as the principal threat to its security, and no longer Pakistan.
While the European Union is placing increased resources into blocking clandestine immigration to the continent, its member states, notably those of the south, worst-hit by the financial crisis, are mounting schemes to sell residency rights and even citizenship to wealthy non-EU foreigners in an attempt to attract millions of euros into state coffers. To qualify for most of the schemes it suffices to buy into luxury property, a deal which is notably attracting Russian, Chinese and Middle East investors. The European Commission, meanwhile, says it has no say in the cynical and apparently legal business of selling European citizenship. Ludovic Lamant reports.
The Printemps department store chain, one of France’s oldest and most famous, was last week bought by a Qatari investment fund for a reported 1.75 billion euros after months of secret negotiations with the group’s principal shareholders and amid bitter opposition by unions representing its staff of 3,000. France’s competition regulator gave the green light despite a preliminary investigation opened in June by the Paris public prosecutor’s office into allegations that the transaction process involved fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. In this opinion article, Mediapart economy and finance specialist Martine Orange argues that the deal illustrates the recurrent impotence of French law, and the unwillingness of government, to effectively rein in the excesses of rich and powerful wheeler-dealers.