Nicolas Sarkozy (l) and Michel Platini in Geneva, May 28th 2010. © Reuters
Key documents seen by Mediapart shed new light on the award of the 2022 football World Cup to Qatar. The documents, written to then French president Nicolas Sarkozy by his sports advisor, relate to a lunch that took place at the Élysée Palace in 2010, just days before the crucial vote to decide the tournament’s host country. They reveal that the then boss of European football ruling body UEFA, Michel Platini, had been “reluctant” to back the Gulf state, but had been convinced to switch his vote to it by the end of the meeting with the French president and key figures from Qatar. Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget report.
Carlos Ghosn during a press conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut, January 8th 2020. © Joseph Eid/AFP
Former Renault chief executive and Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn's secret escape from Japan on December 29th, when he was allegedly smuggled out of the country in a musical instrument box by hired former special services veterans, was as dramatic as his arrest there one year earlier on charges of serious financial misconduct. But the manner of his flight bore all the hallmarks of the use over two decades by the one-time titan of the world’s carmaking industry of private security personnel, both to spy on his staff but also shareholders and board members. Mediapart's Matthieu Suc, author of a recent book detailing Ghosn’s seeming obsession with surveillance, reports.
Alexandre Benalla (left) with President Emmanuel Macron in April 2018. © CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
A key witness in a judicial investigation into the disappearance of a safe belonging to President Emmanuel Macron’s disgraced former security aide Alexandre Benalla has this week given a statement to police that he saw two Élysée Palace staff in possession of the safe, together with Benalla, hours after the latter was forced into hiding in July 2018, Mediapart can reveal. The witness said he was told that the contents of another safe in Benalla's Élysée office and emptied at around the same time contained “sensitive” information relating to both Macron's election campaign and personal matters. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.
The December 2019 inauguration ceremony for the New National Stadium in Tokyo which will be used for the 2020 Games. © Reuters
Documents obtained by French investigating judges show how the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations, Lamine Diack, “coordinated” the votes of African members of the International Olympic Committee in 2013 to help ensure Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Games. Meanwhile just before and after the vote, an offshore company linked to Diack's son received a total of 2.3 million dollars from the Japanese bid committee. Yann Philippin and Antton Rouget report.
The migrant football association L'Équipe sans Frontières, at the end of a training session at Bobigny, north-east of Paris. © CC
In the Paris region, western France and the French Alps, local initiatives are springing up to help young migrants, many of them unaccompanied minors, to get involved in football to help them integrate and find their feet in their new country. These projects are similar to a much-larger initiative that began in Germany in 2015 when that country took in nearly one million refugees. But as Mickaël Correia reports, the sport's ruling body in France - the French Football Federation - is doing nothing to help the process.
Carlos Ghosn on October 6th, 2017 © Reuters
The former Renault chairman and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, has travelled to Lebanon having fled from Japan where he was on bail facing charges of alleged financial wrongdoing. Ghosn, who was also chairman of Renault's Japanese partner Nissan, and who has always claimed his innocence, immediately justified the extraordinary move by saying he no longer wanted to be “held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed”. From the start of the affair Ghosn has claimed he is the victim of a plot, while largely avoiding details of the allegations against him. Mediapart's Matthieu Suc, author of a recent book on Renault, reports.
The SocGen operation involved officials of the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. © Reuters.
Giant French banking group Société Générale has admitted corrupting Libyan officials under the regime of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi to gain contracts worth more than 2 billion dollars. The scam involved paying vast secret commissions to a businessman intermediary via his offshore company based in Panama. In a 2017 statement recognising its role, the bank said that it “wishes to place on record its regret about the lack of caution of some of its employees”, but documents now obtained by Mediapart suggest the operation may have been validated at the highest level of the group’s management. Fabrice Arfi reports.
Cash cow: the Corsicana cattle breed native to Corsica. © Wikipédia
The French Mediterranean island of Corsica is the focus of a series of investigations into the suspected mass fraud of European Union agricultural subsidies. One of the alleged methods of the fraud is the fictitious declaration of swathes of scrubland as pasture land for cattle farmers. The sums involved are vast, and those suspected of the scam include some closely related to the island’s notorious and feared underworld gangs. Hélène Constanty reports.
The iconic national library building in Paris.
In the last ten years at least seven people have killed themselves by jumping from the terraces or plaza of a site at France's national library, the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand in Paris. Meanwhile on December 8th this year a girl fell from the iconic building and is now in a critical condition. Trade unions representing staff at the library say that not enough work has been done to make the site safe. Meanwhile management suggests such measures might be “ineffective” and say they also have to consider keeping the building's “architectural integrity”. Mathilde Goanec reports.
A senior judge at Versailles, west of Paris, has been accused of harassing clerks of the court and mocking both defendants and victims in her court, Mediapart has learnt. However, despite a lengthy letter of complaint from the clerks' trade union, the judge's bosses have just given her a warning about her future conduct. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports.