Investigations

  • Mystery of Macron's brutal power play against France's antitrust authority

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    The former president of the antitrust body the Autorité de la concurrence, Isabelle de Silva, who was removed by Emmanuel Macron. © ERIC PIERMONT / AFP The former president of the antitrust body the Autorité de la concurrence, Isabelle de Silva, who was removed by Emmanuel Macron. © ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

    Abruptly and without any warning, the Élysée decided that it was not renewing Isabelle de Silva's contract as the president of France's competition authority the Autorité de la Concurrence from October 13th. The decision, which has reportedly surprised and dismayed government ministers as well as many observers, was taken so late that a successor has not yet been lined up. The main theory to explain Emmanuel Macron's shock move is that the highly-respected De Silva was seen as an obstacle to the proposed merger between two private French TV companies, TF1 and the smaller M6, a tie-up that the Élysée favours. More generally, the independent Autorité de la Concurrence is also seen as a block to Emmanuel Macron's aim of creating large-scale national business champions. Martine Orange reports.

  • Macron's discreet support for climate-harming oil project in Uganda

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    Crude oil containers on the shores of Lake Albert in the west of Uganda, January 24th 2020. © Photo Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP Crude oil containers on the shores of Lake Albert in the west of Uganda, January 24th 2020. © Photo Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP

    He has not spoken about it publicly. But behind the scenes the French head of state Emmanuel Macron has written to the president of Uganda supporting the role of French oil firm Total in developing an oilfield and a  lengthy new oil pipeline in the East African country. In the capital Kampala, meanwhile, the French embassy has  been wholeheartedly lobbying for the French multinational. Yet the projects are opposed by environmental and human rights groups who say they are not just bad for the climate but will also displace thousands of local people from their land. Mediapart's environment correspondent Jade Lindgaard reports.

  • How French firms profit from France's foreign aid agency

    By and Anthony Fouchard (Disclose)
    The Paris headquarters of the French Development Agency, the AFD. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart The Paris headquarters of the French Development Agency, the AFD. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

    France’s foreign aid agency, the AFD, which provides financial support for developing countries, funds projects in Africa to the tune of billions of euros in contracts in which the principal beneficiaries are French companies, while the details of a number of its activities are not made public for reasons of banking secrecy. Justine Brabant and Anthony Fouchard summarize here the findings of a series of investigations into the AFD's practices by Mediapart in partnership with online newsroom Disclose.

     

  • Phones of five French ministers found to be infected by Pegasus spyware

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     © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet /Mediapart © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet /Mediapart

    The mobile phones of five French government ministers were targeted by the Pegasus spyware sold to states worldwide by Israeli surveillance technology firm NSO Group, Mediapart can reveal. The presence of “markers” left by the spyware were discovered by an official French probe involving technical analyses of the devices. The development follows on revelations, first published in July, which found evidence that the surveillance tool was notably employed by NSO clients around the globe to target journalists, including two from Mediapart, politicians and regime opponents. Fabrice Arfi and Ellen Salvi report.

  • The fall of Macron and Hollande's Syrian 'friend'

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    Mohamad Izzat Khatab with François Hollande, Emmanuel Macron, former European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker, and former chief of the defence staff in France General Jean-Louis Georgelin. © Photomontage Mediapart Mohamad Izzat Khatab with François Hollande, Emmanuel Macron, former European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker, and former chief of the defence staff in France General Jean-Louis Georgelin. © Photomontage Mediapart

    He has been variously described as a “billionaire, a “peacemaker” and a key figure in “inter-faith dialogue”. For ten years French political and religious leaders have rolled out the red carpet for Mohamad Izzat Khatab, a Syrian businessman whose past is shrouded in mystery. According to an investigation by Mediapart, this fan of selfies taken with the rich and powerful has just been placed under investigation in relation to a vast fraud case. Antton Rouget reports.

  • French secret services fear Taliban victory may inspire homegrown terrorists

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    Screen grab from June 19th 2001 showing members of Al Qaeda marching at a training camp in Afghanistan. © HO/AFP Screen grab from June 19th 2001 showing members of Al Qaeda marching at a training camp in Afghanistan. © HO/AFP

    The Taliban's return to power in Kabul has raised fears about the potential knock-on effect that their victory will have in other parts of the world. French intelligence services believe that here the main danger is likely to come from the morale boost it will give to terrorists or potential terrorists already based in France. Matthieu Suc has spoken to members of the intelligence community to assess the potential threats following recent events in Afghanistan.

  • French paparazzi boss Michèle Marchand faces investigation in police celebrity 'leaks' case

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    Illustration featuring, from left, Karine Le Marchand, Michèle Marchand  and Benjamin Griveaux. © Photo Illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP Illustration featuring, from left, Karine Le Marchand, Michèle Marchand and Benjamin Griveaux. © Photo Illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP

    Michèle 'Mimi' Marchand, a powerful figure in the French gossip press and an influential PR fixer to politicians, has already been placed under investigation over the retraction of evidence by businessman Ziad Takieddine, a key witness in the probe into Libyan funding of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign. Now Marchand, 74, the boss of paparazzi agency Bestimage, has been placed under investigation in relation to a second case, involving allegations of police leaks. It concerns the publication of photos of the arrest of a man over a sex tape affair that ended the hopes of former government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux of becoming mayor of Paris for Emmanuel Macron's party. Marchand, who denies any wrongdoing, is also being investigated for alleged “extortion” against well-known French television presenter Karine Le Marchand. Fabrice Arfi and Antton Rouget report.

  • French interior minister says ‘no justification’ to suspend police over death of deliveryman

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    Cédric Chouviat pinned to the ground by police officers in Paris on January 3rd 2020. © Document Mediapart Cédric Chouviat pinned to the ground by police officers in Paris on January 3rd 2020. © Document Mediapart

    On the morning of January 3rd 2020, a 42-year-old deliveryman, Cédric Chouviat, was flagged down for a roadside check by police close to the Eiffel Tower in central Paris. After a brief altercation, he was arrested and pinned to the ground by police using a stranglehold, causing him to suffocate and suffer a fatal cardiac arrest, despite his pleas for them to let go. Although there is compelling evidence of the excessive, brutal manhandling of Chouviat by the officers implicated in the events, three of whom have been formally placed under investigation, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin recently wrote to Chouviat’s family dismissing their call for the officers to be suspended from duty while awaiting the outcome of an ongoing judicial probe. Pascale Pascariello reports.

  • Sarkozy-Libya funding probe: judges investigating witness tampering denounce ‘case of major gravity’

    Michèle Marchand and (clockwise from left) Hervé Gattegno, Ziad Takieddine, Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Herzog. © Photo Illustration Simon Toupet /Mediapart avec AFP Michèle Marchand and (clockwise from left) Hervé Gattegno, Ziad Takieddine, Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Herzog. © Photo Illustration Simon Toupet /Mediapart avec AFP

    Documents to which Mediapart has obtained access reveal evidence suggesting how a witness tampering plot was mounted to discredit the case against former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in a judicial investigation into the alleged funding of his 2007 election campaign by the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. According to judges investigating the alleged plot, it was “aimed at influencing the statements of a witness and to mislead, even to publicly discredit, the examining magistrates in charge of a case of particular sensitivity”. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.

  • 'Rafale Papers': France opens judicial probe into fighter deal with India, new revelations emerge

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    French armed forces minister Florence Parly with Reliance Group owner and chairman Anil Ambani (centre) and Éric Trappier (left), during the inauguration of the joint venture plant in Nagpur, October 27th 2017. © Money Sharma / AFP French armed forces minister Florence Parly with Reliance Group owner and chairman Anil Ambani (centre) and Éric Trappier (left), during the inauguration of the joint venture plant in Nagpur, October 27th 2017. © Money Sharma / AFP

    A judicial probe into suspected corruption has been opened in France over the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India in 2016 of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft. In this latest of a series of investigations about the secret dealings behind the contract, Mediapart reveals how Dassault provided a remarkably generous financial gift to its local industrial partner Reliance Group, owned by Anil Ambani, a close friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.