Alexis Kohler at the Elysée Palace, January 3rd 2018. © Reuters
The French prosecution services have launched an investigation into suspected corruption by President Emmanuel Macron’s chief of staff Alexis Kohler, following an official complaint lodged by anti-corruption NGO Anticor. The complaint cited revelations last month by Mediapart into Kohler’s role, when he was a senior civil servant, in affairs in which the interests of a shipping company owned by members of his close family were at stake. Mediapart’s Martine Orange, who first broke the story, details here the background to the case that now threatens the downfall of the man described by French daily Le Monde as “the most powerful senior civil servant in France”.
Vehicles from a European Union election monitoring team mission. © EU
More allegations of international aid workers’ sexual exploitation of the vulnerable people they are assigned to help were revealed last week in a mothballed United Nations report into the extent of an alleged ‘food for sex’ scandal involving numerous NGOs. The Times report followed revelations earlier this year by the paper about how Oxfam covered up evidence that its staff were involved in sex parties with prostitutes during operations in quake-devastated Haiti. But the scandalous behaviour of some involved in worthy international missions is not limited to the humanitarian sphere, as revealed by Fabien Offner in this report into the allegations of the conduct of staff involved in election monitoring missions, and in particular that of some EU election observers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006.
Chrysler cars at the Detroit car show in January 2016. © Reuters
Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën are not the only car makers to have used the same software to increase the prices of their spare parts. Mediapart, working with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), Reuters and Belgian daily De Standaard, can reveal that 31 different car makers were approached to use the software and that at least three of them, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Chrysler, have employed it to boost revenue. Between them these five huge automobile manufacturers have raked in an extra 2.6 billion euros from motorists around the world. Yann Philippin reports.
Carlos Ghosn, left, the CEO of Renault, and Carlos Tavares, chairman of the board at PSA Peugeot Citroën. © Reuters
Confidential documents obtained by Mediapart and the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) show that the French car makers Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën artificially inflated the already high cost of spares parts for motorists around the world. The manufacturers made use of a special software to increase the prices by an average of 15%. It is estimated the practice cost consumers around 1.5 billion euros over nearly ten years. Yann Philippin reports.
Under investigation: Éric Woerth. © Reuters
The current chairman of the powerful finance committee at the National Assembly, Éric Woerth, has been placed under formal investigation over the affair involving Libyan funding of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign. Member of Parliament Woerth, who was treasurer of Sarkozy's campaign and later budget minister, faces an investigation over “collusion in illicit financing of an election campaign”. It is claim he concealed a massive influx of cash in the campaign accounts. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy is already under investigation in relation to the affair. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 found in eastern Ukraine on July 17th 2014. © CORRECT!V
An international investigation has concluded that the destruction of a Malaysia Airlines flight linking Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, which killed all 298 passengers and crew aboard, was caused by a missile from a Russian army anti-aircraft brigade, confirming a report published by Mediapart just six months after the horrific events. The attack occurred over territory held by pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists at the height of the secessionist conflict with the Ukraine government. The Joint International Team investigation, involving officials from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, have found that the missile which destroyed the plane “came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia”, just as the investigation by Mediapart media partner CORRECT!V had pieced together in this detailed report first published in January 2015.
The Russian loan contract signed by the head of the bank Roman Popov and Front National treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just. © Document Mediapart
Mediapart has obtained a copy of the contract for the 9 million euro loan that a Russian bank gave to France's far-right Front National (FN) in 2014. The document answers some of the questions in this murky affair but many remain. The bank later went bankrupt, its former director is wanted for alleged misappropriation of funds, the FN's loan has been sold on at least twice, and it is still not clear to whom it has to be repaid. Marine Turchi and Agathe Duparc report.
The fast-expanding cruise ship fleets are forecast to carry 17.2 million passengers worldwide in 2018. © Reuters
The expanding cruise ship industry estimates more than 27 million people worldwide will this year holiday on the giant vessels, some of which are longer than an aircraft carrier, often dwarfing the landscapes of the ports they dock in. Environmentalists warn that they also leave behind them a noxious blend of particulates and gases that represent a serious health risk to the populations of the locations they visit, the tip of the iceberg of the problem of pollution caused by maritime traffic. Dorothée Moisan reports on the dirty side of sea travel.
This sinkhole at Khasfa, close to Mosul in northern Iraq, is believed to contain the remains of around 4,000 victims of IS. © Jérémy André
Many thousands of people disappeared without trace during the occupation of large parts of Iraq by the Islamic State (IS) group between 2013 and 2017, most of them feared buried in hundreds of mass graves around the country which remain unexcavated. But among the lost, whose families continue to seek news of their fate, are also former captives of the jihadists, who are now detained in Iraqi prisons suspected of being members of IS. The increasingly desperate families of the vanished are demanding action to establish the truth about what happened to their relatives, and the mounting anger has become an issue in this weekend’s parliamentary elections in the country. Jérémy André reports from the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.
Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB officer, listening to officials from the Russian foreign military intelligence agency the GRU in 2006. © Reuters/Itar-Tass/Service de presse présidentiel russe
Russian spies in France are trying to recruit business people, diplomats and military personnel, using resources and methods similar to those used at the height of the Cold War. French counter-intelligence officials are meanwhile working hard to unmask the Russian agents. Though Russia and France are co-operating over antiterrorism issues, their respective intelligence agents are engaged in a parallel, largely hidden struggle, with French soil as the battleground. Matthieu Suc and Jacques Massey report.