Far-right leader Marine Le Pen in Paris on January 13th 2019. © Reuters
The far-right Rassemblement National – the former Front National – was in serious financial difficulty after the Parliamentary and presidential elections in 2017 and was bailed out by a loan of 8 million euros. That loan, Mediapart can reveal, came from French businessman Laurent Foucher who has a range of commercial interests in Africa and who is close to Nicolas Sarkozy's former right-hand man Claude Guéant. The loan was transferred from a bank in the United Arab Emirates but questions still remain over the precise origin of the money. Karl Laske and Marine Turchi report.
The fire at the Lubrizol chemical plant at Rouen, northern France, September 26th 2019. © Reuters
The Lubrizol chemical factory at Rouen in northern France that caught fire on September 26th stores and produces products that are “very dangerous for the environment”, “irritants” and “noxious”, according to reports by the inspectorate in charge of overseeing potentially hazardous sites. In 2016 the inspectorate warned about the risk of the “creation of toxic substances” in the event of a fire. Jade Lindgaard examines the background to the chemical plant where local residents are alarmed about the risk of dangerous pollution.
A race during the IAAF Diamond League competition on May 3rd 2019 in Doha. © Reuters
Qatar promised 37.5 million dollars to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) just hours before it won the right to stage the 2019 World Athletics Championships was awarded. Some 4.5 million of this was due to be paid to the son of the IAAF president at the time, Papa Massata Diack. The IAAF says that in the end that money was never paid to Diack. Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget report on the background to the awarding of the prestigious event now taking place at Doha in Qatar –and where the athletes have been sweltering in the heat.
A French-made Egyptian air force Rafale fighter plane taking off as part of an air raid in Libya in 2017.
In April 2019 the self-styled 'Field Marshal' Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against the regime in Tripoli which is acknowledged by the international community as Libya's legitimate government. Yet during his recent military campaign to control the east of the country, the warlord has had the discreet help of several important allies, including France. And as Yann Philippin, René Backmann and Antton Rouget report, Haftar also received air support from French-made Rafale jets which had been sold to Egypt.
Édouard Balladur (centre) in 1995 with François Léotard (right) and Nicolas Sarkozy. © Reuters
Senior public prosecutor François Molins has concluded that former French prime minister Édouard Balladur and the defence minister who served under him, François Léotard, should be sent for trial for siphoning payments from public weapons contracts with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to fund Balladur’s presidential election campaign. Molins’s formal recommendations follow a lengthy judicial investigation into what has become known in France as “the Karachi affair”, a complex and far-reaching alleged corruption scam which surfaced after the murders of 11 French naval engineers in the Pakistani port city in 2002.
Lionel Messi beside his father Jorge during their trial on tax fraud charges in Barcelona in June 2016. © Reuters
Documents obtained from the whistleblowing platform Football Leaks reveal a financial structure that Spanish tax authorities suspect was used to hide part of the remunerations paid to FC Barcelona star player Lionel Messi, already convicted of tax fraud in 2016 along with his father Jorge Messi. The documents detail how the latter received 6.7 million euros from the Catalan club via a Luxembourg bank account belonging to a shell company registered in London.
The French-built Saudi frigate Al-Dammam 816, in May 2014. © US Navy
Video evidence that warships sold by France to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have played an active role in the maritime blockade of Yemen, contributing to the starvation of millions of civilians in what the UN has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, has emerged in an investigation partnered by Mediapart. Meanwhile, a UN report earlier this month warned that the legality of arms exports to belligerents in the conflict in Yemen by countries including France, Britain and the US “remains questionable”, and that “states may be held responsible for providing aid or assistance for the commission of international law violations”. Antton Rouget and Yann Philippin report.
Ten years after the crash over the Atlantic Ocean of Air France flight AF447, in which all 228 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus 330 were killed, the French judicial investigation into the events has finally closed, without charges. The magistrates in charge of the probe have controversially exonerated the airline and Airbus of any responsibility for the disaster, which it instead placed firmly on the flight crew. The September 5th ruling has outraged relatives of the victims, who have accused the investigation of buckling before “the aeronautical lobby”, and who have now lodged an appeal to re-open the investigation. Mediapart has obtained access to the case file which, as Yann Philippin reports, contains numerous elements which contradict the magistrates’ findings.
Serge Dassault in 2016. © Reuters
Seven members of an allegedly corrupt electoral system put in place by the well-known billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault in a town south-east of Paris, including the current mayor, are to stand trial. Ordering the court hearing, investigating judge Serge Tournaire referred to an “unprecedented” level of election corruption, including vote-buying. Mediapart's Yann Philippin, who has co-written a book on the subject, reports on how the details of what has been dubbed the “Dassault System” are finally to be heard in a courtroom.
Ex-minister François de Rugy seeks to clear his name on BFM TV, July 29th 2019. © DR
A string of revelations from Mediapart about his lifestyle and use of public money led to the resignation of François de Rugy, environment minister and number two in the French government, on July 16th 2019. Since then the former minister has been on a PR offensive, helped by friends in the media, seeking to prove that his name has subsequently been “cleared” and that Mediapart's revelations had been “refuted”. This is obviously untrue. Fabrice Arfi, Michaël Hajdenberg, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi look back over the facts of the case.