Mayada Boulos, communications advisor to the French prime minister, seen here at the Élysée Palace on June 29th 2020. © Ludovic MARIN / AFP
Mayada Boulos, communications advisor to French Prime Minister Jean Castex, was in charge of a PR campaign to promote Saudi Arabian interests during her previous job with advertising and public relations group Havas. The campaign was on behalf of a foundation created and chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom who a US intelligence report released last week said had approved the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Antton Rouget reports.
Éveline Le Bris, one of the alleged victims of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, pictured here at its institution in Angers, north-west France, July 21st 1963. © SB
During the 1950s and 1960s in France, thousands of young girls considered to be from problem backgrounds were placed in care in institutions run by the nuns of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic order whose vocation was to ensure their welfare. A recently created association of those once sent to the hostels is now demanding recognition and compensation for the violence they say they suffered at the hands of the nuns, including physical and mental abuse and forced labour. But, as Sarah Boucault reports, the order is proving less than enthusiastic at opening up its potentially incriminating archives to public scrutiny.
Alain Juppé, French foreign affairs minister in 1994, seen here in May 2020 at France’s Constitutional Council where he now sits. © JOEL SAGET / AFP
In July 1994 in Rwanda, immediately after the fall of the murderous Hutu regime that had led the genocide of hundreds of thousands of the minority ethnic Tutsi population, a group of regime officials, including its president, had fled into a “safe zone” controlled by the French army. A document now discovered in official archives in Paris proves that the French government knew of the presence of the regime officials, but instead of detaining them it organised their escape out of Rwanda. The document, a cable sent from the office of then French foreign minister Alain Juppé, was signed by the current head of the French foreign intelligence agency, the DGSE. Fabrice Arfi reports.
A Sanofi distribution centre at Val-de-Reuil in Normandy. © Joel Saget/ AFP
The French pharmaceuticals firm Sanofi has been in the headlines recently because of its setbacks in producing a vaccine against Covid-19, which will not now be ready until the end of 2021 at the earliest. Yet the group has nonetheless decided to go ahead with its restructuring plans and will be trimming back on its research while also moving many of its production plants into a separate company to be sold off. France is now paying the price for having abandoned its industrial and research strategies over the last thirty years. Martine Orange investigates.
Denies the claims: interior minister Gérald Darmanin. © THOMAS COEX / AFP
Mediapart has had access to new information in the current investigation into rape allegations against France's interior minister Gérald Darmanin, claims that date back to 2009. Some documents we have seen contradict parts of his defence. The file also shows that when he was questioned by the investigating judge in mid-December 2020 the minister - who denies the claims - changed his version of events over a key exchange of SMS messages, in which the complainant accuses him of having “abused his position”. And in addition the minister gave new explanations to justify some of the more embarrassing aspects of the case. Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.
Justice minister Éric Dupond Moretti leaving a meeting of ministers at the Elysée on December 9th 2020. © Arthur Nicholas Orchard / Hans Lucas via AFP
France's justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti is planning to bring in a raft of reforms to the country's legal system. But prosecutors and many lawyers are worried at the minister's plans to create a new hybrid status for in-house or company legal staff and to grant them the same “legal privilege” as independent lawyers. The move is designed to help defend large French companies against the long arm of the American justice system. Yet critics fear the change would stop French investigators from getting hold of key company documents and become a further obstacle to tackling corruption. Pierre Januel reports.
The stream close to the Roxane bottling plant at La Ferrière-Bochard. © Alberto Campi
For nearly twenty years fishermen, residents and environment inspectors have raised the alarm over pollution seeping from an industrial bottling plant owned by the French group Roxane in Normandy. Locals say the organic pollution has caused major harm to the stream, which feeds into the River Sarthe. Roxane, the third largest French bottling company and owner of Cristaline, the most widely-consumed bottled water in the country, also has its headquarters at the site. Mathieu Martiniere of the independent journalists collective 'We Report' investigates.
Nicolas Sarkozy, pictured here attending a conference in Moscow on January 16th 2020. © Evgeny Biyatov / Sputnik via AFP
The French public prosecution services on Friday confirmed they have opened a preliminary investigation into suspected “influence peddling” in relation to a 3-million-euro contract handed to former president Nicolas Sarkozy by Russian insurance services group RESO-Garantia in 2019. The group, one of the largest insurance companies in Russia, is owned by brothers Sergei and Nikolai Sarkisov, whose business dealings, including the sale of a third of its capital to French insurance giant AXA, have involved complex financial structures in tax havens. Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget report.
Key Sarkozy allies: Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux, in February 2011, at the Ministry of the Interior in Paris. © LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP
Two of former president Nicolas Sarkozy's closest allies, Brice Hortefeux and Claude Guéant, have recently been placed under formal investigation for “criminal conspiracy” over claims that the ex-head of state's 2007 election was part-funded by the Libyan regime. Mediapart can now reveal that during questioning by judges both men admitted to lapses in judgement in meeting a spy chief from Muammar Gaddafi's regime who was wanted by the French justice system after being convicted of a terrorist attack. Yet they deny there was any deal for the Libyans to help fund the election campaign. Both men also loyally continue to protect their former boss, who himself faces claims of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the case. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.
Health minister Olivier Véran in Paris on January 4th 2021. © MARTIN BUREAU / AFP
The initial slowness in the rollout of its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has sparked a major political row in France. An investigation by Mediapart can now reveal that a failure of logistics prevented the Pfizer vaccine from being distributed more quickly. As with the earlier debacle over face masks, the Ministry of Health failed to react quickly enough to events and by the end of December had only managed to put in place 38 of the 113 special freezers needed to store the doses at low temperatures. At least three weeks were lost as a result, report Caroline Coq-Chodorge and Antton Rouget.