Investigations

  • How Neymar transfer became a financial abyss for PSG

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    Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, better known as Neymar Junior. © Reuters Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, better known as Neymar Junior. © Reuters

    Documents from Football Leaks lift the lid on the real cost and the dealings behind the record-breaking transfer in the summer of 2017 of Brazilian football star Neymar from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Revealed here by Mediapart, they tell of massive commission payments, up-to-the-wire negotiations that almost collapsed amid a tetchy moment of bluff, tax dilemmas and the club’s suspicions that some of those accompanying the player to Paris were in undeclared employment. Meanwhile, despite the capture of one of the world’s most celebrated players, the transfer appears to represent a financial abyss for PSG.

  • When French club PSG recruited youth players according to ethnic origin

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    Former PSG sporting director Olivier Létang (right) with the club’s president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi. © Reuters Former PSG sporting director Olivier Létang (right) with the club’s president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi. © Reuters

    Talent scouts for French club PSG were required to detail the ethnic origins of potential youth recruits as an essential criterium in the club’s selection of players in a blatant discrimination policy that lasted over several years until this spring, Mediapart can reveal. As a result, a youngster now considered to be one of France’s most promising players was disregarded by PSG on the grounds of his black skin.   

  • When AS Monaco faced a 'neutron bomb' of fraud allegations

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    Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, president and majority shareholder of AS Monaco. © Reuters Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, president and majority shareholder of AS Monaco. © Reuters

    In December 2011, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, with an estimated wealth of about 6.8 billion dollars from his interests in potassium fertiliser production, bought a two-thirds share in AS Monaco, the football club based in the tiny French-controlled Riviera principality of Monte Carlo, where he resides. Mediapart can reveal that his grand ambitions for the club, which plays in France’s top-flight division, Ligue 1, saw him attempt to hide his massive and illegal funding of the team behind a supposed marketing contract involving an offshore structure of companies in the British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong. But his chosen partner in the scheme finally pulled out, threatening a “neutron bomb” of revelations, while the governing body of European association football, UEFA, was to turn a blind eye to the deal.     

  • When UEFA bosses helped cover up PSG 'financial fair play’ fraud

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    PSG general manager Jean-Claude Blanc (left) with the club’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. © Reuters PSG general manager Jean-Claude Blanc (left) with the club’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. © Reuters

    Over several years, Qatar injected 1.8 billion euros into French football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in a massive breach of the Financial Fair Play regulations of European association football’s governing body UEFA. Mediapart reveals here the background to the affair and how the then president of UEFA, Michel Platini, and his secretary general, Gianni Infantino, who is now president of FIFA, helped cover up the fraud, allowing the club to escape exclusion from the prestigious and lucrative Champions League.

  • Macron's ruling LREM party faces criticism as it embraces era of 'kit form politics'

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    The La République en Marche party conference was held in Paris on October 21st, 2018. © MJ The La République en Marche party conference was held in Paris on October 21st, 2018. © MJ

    The governing party set up by President Emmanuel Macron, La République en Marche (LREM), is seeking to mobilise and enthuse its activists as important elections approach. As part of that process it has developed a range of tools and documents inspired by business and management culture in which everyone is called upon to run grassroots initiatives. But as Manuel Jardinaud reports, these 'kit form' methods are not to everyone's tastes.

  • The French Army and genocide in Rwanda: a damning video

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    On the right, Colonel Jacques Rosier, head of French special forces in Rwanda. © DR On the right, Colonel Jacques Rosier, head of French special forces in Rwanda. © DR

    Mediapart has published a video filmed in the summer of 1994 by French soldiers in Rwanda. It exposes the passivity of the army during one of the most embarrassing episodes for France during the genocide in that country: the massacre at Bisesero. The revelation comes as French judges complete their long investigation into the claims that the French military was "complicit" in genocide and crimes against humanity. Meanwhile human rights groups say they fear that the victims of the atrocities will be denied justice.  Fabrice Arfi reports.

  • Corruption in Brazil: suspicions over meeting between Sarkozy and Lula

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    President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on September 7th, 2009,during Brazil's annual celebration of independence day. © Reuters President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on September 7th, 2009,during Brazil's annual celebration of independence day. © Reuters

    A former Brazilian finance minister, Antonio Palocci, claims that the issue of hidden payments was discussed during a meeting held between the French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on the evening of September 6th, 2009. An investigation into the sale of French Scorpène submarines to Brazil and the construction of a naval base at Itaguaí in the South American country has revealed the existence of up to 70 million euros in commissions paid by the Brazilian partner company of the French naval defence firm Naval Group. Karl Laske investigates.

  • New questions emerge in fraud probe into France’s firebrand radical-left leader

    Police last week searched the home of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of Frances radical-left La France Insoumise party, and also the homes of several of his close entourage, as part of an investigation into suspected financial fraud during Mélenchon’s 2017 presidential election campaign. Mélenchon’s furious reaction to the raids, which included his party’s headquarters, have erupted into a public slanging match with the prosecution services and also the media, who he has denounced as serving a political plot against him. Fabrice Arfi, Michel Deléan and Antton Rouget report on the searches last week, when 12,000 euros in cash was discovered at the home of a former close aide of Mélenchon’s.

  • Gaddafi son tells French probe how dictator 'funded Sarkozy campaign'

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    Saïf al-Islam Gaddafi appearing before a court in Zintan, Libya, on May 15th 2014. © Reuters Saïf al-Islam Gaddafi appearing before a court in Zintan, Libya, on May 15th 2014. © Reuters

    In August this year, Saïf al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, sent a lengthy written statement to French magistrates investigating evidence that France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy secretly received millions of euros from the dictator’s regime to finance his 2007 election campaign. Mediapart has gained access to the statement in full, and reveals here the most notable extracts, in which he corroborates the accounts of the illegal funding, details how it was organised, and relates how Sarkozy and his close entourage sought, as a return favour, to overturn a life sentence handed by a Paris court to Gaddafi’s intelligence chief in absentia for his role in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner which killed 170 passengers and crew. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.

  • Dassault document adds to corruption claims over Rafale sale to India

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    French defence minister Florence Parly with Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani (centre) and Dassault CEO Éric Trappier (left), inaugurating the Nagpur joint venture plant, October 27th 2017. © Reliance Group French defence minister Florence Parly with Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani (centre) and Dassault CEO Éric Trappier (left), inaugurating the Nagpur joint venture plant, October 27th 2017. © Reliance Group

    The 8 billion-euro sale to India by France of 36 Dassault Rafale jet fighters has become the centre of corruption allegations levelled against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his close friend, Indian businessman Anil Ambani, chairman of the Reliance Group which was handed the role of local industrial partner of Dassault to build parts for the jets despite no aeronautical expertise. The claim that Ambani was given the joint venture contract as a favour by Modi to save his struggling business is the subject of a complaint lodged this month with India’s Central Bureau of Investigation. Now Mediapart has obtained a Dassault company document in which a senior executive is quoted as saying the group accepted to work with Reliance as an “imperative and obligatory” condition for securing the fighter contract. Karl Laske and Antton Rouget report.