Then foreign minister Laurent Fabius during a Foundation symposium in 2015. © Fondation Alliance Française
The future of the Fondation Alliance Française, regarded as the shop window for French cultural diplomacy, is at risk. A confidential report carried out by inspectors from three government ministries – and seen by Mediapart – slams the way the foundation has been managed. Its president Jérôme Clément, who is close to former foreign minister Laurent Fabius, has resigned. And five directors, including former prime minister and current mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppé, have also quit. Antton Rouget reports.
A jihadist in a tunnel underneath the former Islamic State-held city of Mosul.
The Islamic State terrorist organisation has been quietly preparing for the loss of its self-styled Caliphate for several months. France's security services now fear that its fighters might be moved to other areas of jihadist conflict or into Europe. In particular they have have raised concerns over the role of the terrorist's mysterious 'Emigration and Logistics Committee' based in Turkey, the Lebanon and Jordan, amid fears it may be used to send French and other European jihadists back to their country of origin. Matthieu Suc reports.
Gucci bos Marco Bizzarri (left), actress Salma Hayek and her husband François-Henri Pinault in Milan in 2016. © Kering
French giant luxury goods and haute couture group Kering mounted a tax avoidance scheme, validated by its chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault, to pay via a Luxembourg-registered firm the boss of its Italian subsidiary Gucci, Marco Bizzarri, who was domiciled for the purpose in Switzerland, according to confidential documents obtained by Mediapart and its partners in the journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations. The scheme, which began in 2010 when Bizzarri then headed another Kering subsidiary in Italy, Bottega Veneta, allowed both parties to avoid tens of millions of euros in potential tax payments, as Yann Philippin, with Vittorio Malagutti (from Italian weekly L'Espresso) and Jürgen Dahlkamp (from German weekly Der Spiegel) report.
Marine Le Pen during the traditional New Year address to the French press in Paris, January 15th 2017. © Reuters
French far-right Front National party leader Marine Le Pen was once tipped as the likely winner of last year’s presidential elections, sending shockwaves across Europe, before she finally lost to Emmanuel Macron. In the build-up of her campaign, and little known to the wider public, her policy programme was developed with the help of senior French civil servants, dubbed by her party as “night-time visitors” and whose names were kept secret. But in this joint investigation, Mediapart and Buzzfeed have obtained access to documents which reveal the true identities of several of them. They are nearly all graduates of France’s elite higher education schools and include former members of France’s Council of State and the French national audit body, along with a prefect and advisor to the director-general of the French gendarmerie, and a director of a major French construction firm. Marine Turchi and David Dufresne report.
Hundred-million-a-year-man: Lionel Messi after a cup match against Celta Vigo on January 11th, 2018. © Albert Gea/Reuters
Barcelona's star Lionel Messi has become the first footballer in the world to be on a 100-million-euros a year contract, according to documents supplied by whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks and revealed by Mediapart and other members of the journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations (EIC). They show that the Argentine player signed a four-year deal with the Catalan club worth more than 400 million euros to keep him at the club until 2021. Mediapart and the EIC can also reveal that Messi's club Barcelona helped him pay millions of euros in back taxes in relation to his children's charity after they were advised that some club donations to it should have been classified as salary payments. Yann Philippin, Rafael Buschmann, Michael Wulzinger, Nicola Naber (Der Spiegel) and Paula Guisado (El Mundo) report.
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.
One of Adel Kermiche's online messages before he killed Father Jacques Hamel in Normandy in July 2016. © Document Mediapart
Local police intelligence officers became aware of the growing threatening online messages of one of the two jihadists who killed Catholic priest Father Jacques Hamel in Normandy in July 2016 five days before the attack, but the information was not passed on to the national French intelligence agency, Mediapart can reveal. When the police intelligence unit later discovered this delay they doctored the files in a bid to make it look as if their original discovery was only made on the day of the attack itself. The French prosecution services have now opened an investigation into the affair. As Matthieu Suc reports, this claim of a blunder and attempted cover-up will raise fresh questions over the effectiveness of France's counter-terrorism operations.
Prince Al-Waleed's visit to the Élysée in early September 2017. © DR
The ultra-wealthy Saudi prince Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, the owner of the George-V hotel in Paris, remains in detention in Riyad, one of a number of prominent people in the regime who faces claims of corruption. Prince Al-Waleed is an important figure in France and not just because he owns a prestigious hotel here. The billionaire is a key player in a partnership between the French public sector financial institution the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) and a Saudi investment fund. One of his advisers was also a supporter of President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche! party. As Karl Laske reports, this helps explain why the Élysée is keeping a close eye on what happens to the Saudi prince.
A Lafarge industrial plant in Paris. © Reuters
A French investigation into alleged payments to jihadist groups, including Islamic State, by French cement-making giant Lafarge in order to ensure the functioning of one of its plants in Syria is focussing on a fund of more than 15 million dollars set aside by the company for its operations in the war-torn country, according to documents obtained by Mediapart. Fabrice Arfi reports.
Students from the École Polytechnique during a Bastille Day parade. © Reuters
The École Polytechnique, one of France's most prestigious higher education institutions, faced calls to tackle issues of sexual violence and sexism among students and staff well before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. Some women students have complained of sexist comments and others of sexual assaults. There has been one allegation of rape. Faïza Zerouala reports on attempts to fight sexist behaviour at the elite engineering school where military training is compulsory and which has a “macho” atmosphere.