Investigations

  • How ArcelorMittal milks Europe for tonnes of money

    By
    Lakshmi Mittal © Reuters Lakshmi Mittal © Reuters

    ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer whose chairman and CEO is London-based Indian tycoon Lakshmi Mittal (pictured), pays hardly any taxes in Europe. Making the most of the tax-break competition between European Union countries, the group juggles transfer pricing and optimal fiscal gains for its financial flow. But behind what may appear to be a common sense business approach that makes the most of what’s on offer lies a secretive organisation that prevents any proper scrutiny of the real economic performance of ArcelorMittal’s plants or subsidiary companies. In this first of a two-part investigation, Martine Orange traces the steel giant's history and lifts the veil on its hidden practices.

  • How IMF chief Lagarde narrowly escaped being placed under formal investigation in Tapie probe

    By
    Christine Lagarde et Pierre Moscovici © Reuters Christine Lagarde et Pierre Moscovici © Reuters

    French magistrates on Friday designated International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde as an ‘assisted witness’ in their investigation into the conditions of a payout, when she was French finance minister, of more than 400 million euros to controversial tycoon Bernard Tapie. Mediapart has learnt from several well-placed sources the reasons why the judges backed off from placing her under formal investigation, a move originally favoured by two of the three magistrates leading the investigation. These are said to include an extraordinary last-minute public statement in support of Lagarde by French finance minister Pierre Moscovici (pictured top left with Lagarde), and a reported change to her previous account that she managed the Tapie case without interference from the presidential office.

  • How disgraced French minister began selling drugs to friends in high places

     © Reuters © Reuters

    Former French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac (pictured) last month finally confessed to holding a secret foreign bank account over a period of some 20 years, but he has not publicly disclosed the sums that were paid into it, nor from where they came. However, there has been widespread speculation that the account was used to cash fees paid to Cahuzac for his services, during the 1990s, as a consultant for the pharmaceutical industry. Mediapart has now established that Cahuzac began a lucrative role as lobbyist for a drugs firm just months after leaving his senior post at the French health ministry where he was responsible for the market authorisations of medicines. Mathilde Mathieu and Michaël Hajdenberg report on an extraordinary conflict of interest that also raises serious questions over the conduct of Cahuzac’s former ministerial colleagues who allowed a drug he was lobbying for to continue to be subsidised by the social security system for several years after it was first earmarked to lose its status as a refundable medicine.

  • French judges to question IMF chief Lagarde in May over suspected 'misappropriation of public funds'

    By
     © Reuters © Reuters

    International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde (pictured) is to be questioned next month by French judges investigating a case of 'misappropriation of public funds' and 'aiding and abetting falsification' concerning an award from public funds of 403 million euros paid to controversial French tycoon Bernard Tapie when Lagarde was French finance minister, Mediapart can reveal. According to well-informed sources contacted by Mediapart she wil be interrogated on May 23rd, when Lagarde faces being formally placed under investigation - a status one step short of being charged – by the magistrates from the Court of Justice of the Republic, a special French court which is designated to investigate suspected malpractice by government members in the course of their duties. Laurent Mauduit reports.

  • Behind the Cahuzac scandal, a political time-bomb hidden in Geneva

    By
     © Reuters © Reuters

    The still-unfolding scandal surrounding the secret foreign account of former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, first revealed by Mediapart last December, has rocked the French political establishment to its core. But it may not be the last such explosive revelation. For the private Geneva-based financial institution that Cahuzac used to manage his funds hidden abroad, Reyl & Cie, is alleged by several sources contacted by Mediapart to have provided its discreet services to other French personalities - including senior political figures. Dan Israel pieces together a secret and complex financial puzzle, with the help of insiders from the world of finance and banking in Geneva and Paris.

  • Curtain stays drawn on Paris suburbs' town hall graft scandal

    By

    The mayors of several towns in the southern suburbs of Paris at the centre of a suspected corruption scam involving allegations of the fixing of public procurement contracts, bribes and influence peddling have still not been questioned by police who opened an official investigation into the graft claims more than five years ago. The allegations, including threats of violence, mystery gifts of luxury vehicles, holidays between mayors and those they award contracts to, paint a disturbing picture of connivance and graft, and raise serious questions about why the official investigation has stalled. Karl Laske reports.

  • French fiscal authorities query budget minister's tax returns

    By
    En-tête du document révélé par Mediapart En-tête du document révélé par Mediapart

    French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac is being investigated by the tax authorities over suspected irregularities in his tax statements, notably undeclared and under-declared assets, Mediapart can reveal with the publication here of a confidential document listing their queries. The tax inspectors’ enquiry is being led in parallel to a separate preliminary judicial investigation, launched last month, into Cahuzac's suspected 'laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud' relating to evidence that he held a secret Swiss bank account before entering government. Fabrice Arfi reports.

  • Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to launch a 1 bln-euro private equity fund

    By
    Nicolas Sarkozy on conference tour in New York, October 2012. © Reuters Nicolas Sarkozy on conference tour in New York, October 2012. © Reuters

    Nicolas Sarkozy is secretly attempting to set up a 1 billion-euro private equity fund, with plans for it to be based in London, and has begun prospecting wealthy individuals and institutions to back the scheme, financial and business sources have told Mediapart. According to concordant sources, the former French President (pictured) has made discreet contact with potential backers based in France, the Middle East and South-East Asia. Laurent Mauduit reports.

  • The day that French internet boss Xavier Niel made his fortune

    By

    Xavier Niel earned significant amounts of cash in his early business career through investing in sex shops. But the billionaire’s real money was made in the telecommunications industry through his development and ownership of internet service provider Free. Here, in the second part of Mediapart's investigation into the influential businessman, Laurent Mauduit examines the crucial day on which Niel consolidated his control over the company that was to make his name and his fortune.

  • From penniless youth to billionaire – how Free boss Xavier Niel became one of France's most powerful men

    By

    He is one of the most powerful and influential men in France today. Not only is Xavier Niel the founder and main shareholder of the country's second biggest internet service provider, Free, the billionaire businessman is also part-owner of the nation's best-known newspaper Le Monde. Such is his power – and personality – that he is not afraid to take on Google, while he is friends with some of the most prominent families who make up France's wealthy business elite. Yet in the late 1980s Niel was a 'brilliant but penniless' youth with no formal qualifications working as a technician in the twilight world of sex chatlines and dating in central Paris. In an investigation Mediapart charts Niel's career from his lucrative ownership of sex shops in Paris and Strasbourg to the day he seized total control of the company that would ultimately make him France’s 12th wealthiest man. Laurent Mauduit and Dan Israel report.