Switzerland

An encounter - with a difference - with French film legend Jean-Luc Godard

France — Interview

The current wave of political, environmental and social upheavals appears to be marking the ending of an era across the Western world. Mediapart was keen to visit the legendary Franco-Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard, whose films are an unrivalled chronicle of both the world's beauty and its problems, to get his take on events. However, nothing about the interview with the filmmaker at his home in Switzerland went exactly as planned. Ludovic Lamant and Jade Lindgaard describe the encounter that ensued.

Former UEFA boss Michel Platini faces 'fraud' claims over 1.8m euro payment

France — Investigation

Mediapart has learnt that the prosecution authorities in Switzerland are investigating the former French football star and ex-head of European football body UEFA Michel Platini for alleged fraud over a 1.8 million euro payment he received in 2011. That payment was made by Sepp Blatter, then head of world football's governing body FIFA, who also faces a similar probe. Yann Philippin reports.

Sons of former French PM face probe over hidden Swiss cash

France — Investigation

The late Raymond Barre was one of the best-known prime ministers of France's Fifth Republic and was publicly lauded by a president as one of the country's best economists. He was also forever associated with austerity and budget cuts during the difficult economic years of the late 1970s and spoke of the need of French people to pay their taxes. Now his two sons, Olivier and Nicolas Barre, have been placed under formal investigation over the “laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud” as part of a probe by French prosecutors into a stash of money that was hidden in a Swiss bank account by their father. Antton Rouget reports.

'Thank you Nasser for your gift': when FIFA secretary general found luxury watch in his Qatar hotel room

International — Investigation

Shortly after a committee of world football governing body FIFA in February 2015 controversially recommended that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be played in winter, the then FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke secretly met with Qatari businessman Nasser al-Khelaifi, president of French football club PSG and chairman of beIN Sports, who was thanked by Valcke hours later for a gift of a watch worth 40,000 euros, according to phone text messages revealed here by Mediapart. Al-Khelaifi denies he was behind the gift. Swiss prosecutors, meanwhile, have dropped their probe of the two men over suspected bribery, which included Valcke’s free use of a luxurious villa bought by al-Khelaifi in Sardinia. Yann Philippin reports.

The 'micro-nation' that sits between France and Switzerland

International — Link

Welcome to the Republic of Le Saugeais, a little-known 'nation' that lies alongside France's border with Switzerland and which has its own president, anthem, flag and language, all unrecognised by the French state, and whose 'independence' began with a joke in a restaurant.

How Geneva's private banks discourage staff from living in France

International — Link

While wealth-managing firms in the Swiss city close to the French border say that it is to support the local economy that they encourage employees to live locally instead of in cheaper France, banking secrecy concerns are also behind the policy.

The secret payments made via Panama to former Gucci boss

France — Investigation

The leading French luxury goods company Kering, owned by the ultra wealthy Pinault family, saved 39 million euros in tax by paying the former boss of its subsidiary Gucci via a company in Panama, according to documents obtained by Mediapart and shared with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC). The French company also lied about its tax avoidance schemes to two separate investigations carried out by the French Senate. Yann Philippin investigates.

Singer Charles Aznavour's complex legal set-up to reduce his French tax bill

France — Investigation

In 2007 the famous French singer Charles Aznavour set up a holding company in Luxembourg to receive the dividends he gets from French companies that handle his royalties. More recently members of his family also became involved in this perfectly legal set-up. The result is that this veteran French entertainer, who is resident in Switzerland, and some of his family now pay little tax in France on the proceeds from his music. Romaric Godin reports.

Libyan funding: the new documents that threaten Sarkozy's former key aide

France — Investigation

The middleman Alexandre Djouhri has been released on bail by a court in London pending proceedings to extradite him to France. Examining magistrates in Paris investigating claims that Libyan regime money was used to finance Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign want to question Djouhri over crucial documents found at his Swiss home. Mediapart understands these show that the middleman did indeed oversee the payment of half a million euros of Libyan origin to President Sarkozy's most trusted lieutenant, Claude Guéant. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.

Arrests made in French and Swiss anti-terrorism raids

France — Link

Among those arrested were a 23-year-old Colombian woman and 27-year-old Swiss man, targets of a Swiss probe into banned Islamic groups.

Swiss buy into new cross-border currency with France

France — Investigation

A new local currency that straddles the frontier between France and Switzerland has been set up by local volunteers. The 'Léman' was created a year ago to help forge stronger trade links between local businesses on either side of the border and is growing in popularity. Fanny Hardy reports on the first local currency to be shared by the two nations.

Tariq Ramadan: profile of a Muslim bogeyman in France

France — Investigation

Every few years France gets swept up in a controversy over Tariq Ramadan. And since 1995 much of the French establishment has vilified and shunned this Muslim preacher, writer and academic, whom they suspect of advocating radical Islamism and sectarian views. Now the Swiss-born intellectual with Egyptian roots is seeking French nationality in a move that is likely to provoke yet another row. Mathieu Magnaudeix profiles a controversial figure who is almost impossible to classify.

Minibus-lorry crash in France kills 12

France — Link

Victims were all Portuguese passengers on the minibus, which was travelling across France from Switzerland to Portugal; the driver survived.

Geneva launches legal battle to shut French nuclear plant

International

The Swiss canton, or state, of Geneva has launched legal action aimed at forcing the closure of the ageing, accident-prone French nuclear plant at Bugey, which lies just 70 kilometres from the border with Switzerland. The lawsuit is for “the deliberate endangering of lives” and “water pollution”. If successful, this extraordinary move could encourage other countries bordering France and its network of 58 nuclear reactors to take similar action. Agathe Duparc reports from Geneva where the local authorities presented their case at a press conference on Monday.

The evidence behind the trial of French finance minister Jérôme Cahuzac

France — Investigation

Former French finance minister Jérôme Cahuzac will next month stand trial on charges of tax evasion and money laundering. The trial follows a two-year judicial investigation which was itself prompted by Mediapart’s revelations that Cahuzac held a secret bank account abroad, which he first denied before finally confessing in April 2013. Mediapart has gained access to the concluding report by the magistrates which details the evidence for sending Cahuzac for trial. Fabrice Arfi reports.