A Mediapart investigation can reveal the extent to which the publicly-owned French defence contractor Naval Group has been overseeing the renovation and modernisation of Saudi warships. This vital maintenance work has been taking place as the Saudi navy enforces a punishing blockade on Yemen as part of the ongoing conflict there. Meanwhile lawyers warn that any company that helps or supports the Arab coalition military effort in Yemen could potentially be seen as being complicit in possible war crimes. Eva Thiébaud and Thomas Clerget report.
Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. © Reuters
Following Mediapart’s revelations about a vast tax-dodging scheme mounted by French luxury goods group Kering, whose brands include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga, a Swiss parliamentarian has lodged a formal complaint with the public prosecution services in Lugano to demand they investigate the suspected fictitious tax domiciliation of Gucci executives in the canton of Ticino, which is estimated to have saved the group tens of millions of euros in taxes and social charges. Already in January, Kering, owned by French billionaire François-Henri Pinault, confirmed that an offical investigation in Italy has concluded the group evaded 1.4 billion euros in taxes that should have been paid in in the country. Yann Philippin reports.
Alexandre Benalla (left) testifying before a French senate commission. © Reuters
The long-running and still unfolding saga of the scandal surrounding Emmanuel Macron’s former close security aide Alexandre Benalla has prompted serious questions over the French president’s judgement about, and relationship with, his bodyguard, and also the secretive workings of the Élysée Palace and its senior staff. Those questions are heightened with documents revealed here by Mediapart, and the account of a former minister and his senior aide – who commented that Macron's entourage "didn’t protect him sufficiently” from a young man whose rise to prominence in the presidential office almost beggars belief.
'A fault that led to genocide': former French general Jean Varret. © Benît Collombat, de la cellule investigation de Radio France
Former army corps general Jean Varret is the most senior French officer yet to criticise France’s actions in the East African state of Rwanda in the years immediately preceding the 1994 genocide in the country. Interviewed as part of a joint investigation by Mediapart and Radio France into the events 25 years ago, Varret denounced the role and “faults” of a “military lobby” directing French policy, and how the warnings of the horror to come were ignored by his military and political masters.
Screen grab from the Facebook page of Sergei Munier, a follower of former soldier Victor Lenta, at a 'yellow vest' protest. © DR
When President Emmanuel Macron spoke to a group of journalists at the end of January this year he claimed there were “40,000 to 50,000 extreme militants” stirring up the 'yellow vest' protests, and he warned that violence was being orchestrated by political hardliners. Yet at the very same time the president's own intelligence services were producing an analysis which came to precisely the opposite conclusion. According to those security agencies, the ultra-right and ultra-left are “virtually non-existent” in the protest marches. Matthieu Suc reports on the president who appears to be ignoring or contradicting his own secret services.
President Emmanuel Macron on February 27th 2019. © Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
Speaking during a recent debate with local councillors President Emmanuel Macron insisted: “No programme for a return of jihadists has today been drawn up.” Yet, as Mediapart can reveal, officials at the ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice have in fact been working since the autumn of 2018 on plans for the return of French jihadists held by Kurds in Syria. Matthieu Suc reports on the French government's change of heart.
Europe 1's studios on March 14th 2012. © Reuters
For nearly 20 years the privately-owned French radio station Europe 1 kept files and stored information on more than half a million listeners, sometimes with their details accompanied by insulting comments. This was detailed in a 2017 report by the French data watchdog the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) which has remained confidential but which has been seen by Mediapart. As a result of the report the radio station was given an official warning but the matter was never referred to the prosecution authorities, nor did Europe 1 have to pay a fine. Lou Syrah reports.
Mohamed Abdulla Senussi (left) during his trial in Tripoli in April 2014. © Reuters
As part of their investigation into the suspected funding by the Gaddafi regime in Libya of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign, two French judges travelled to Tripoli earlier this month when they questioned, for the first time face-to-face, Gaddafi’s former spy chief, and brother-in-law, Mohamed Abdulla Senussi. Mediapart has gained access to extracts from the statements provided by Senussi, who detailed how he oversaw the payment of 7 million euros for Sarkozy’s campaign, as ordered by Gaddafi. He also confirmed that, as part of the deal, the former French president’s personal lawyer and friend Thierry Herzog was involved in moves to overturn an international arrest warrant issued against Senussi after his conviction in absentia by a Paris court for his part in the blowing up of a French airliner in 1989.
Left to right: Alexandre Benalla, Iskander Makhmudov, and Farkhad Akhmedov. © DR
Emmanuel Macron’s disgraced former personal security aide Alexandre Benalla, who also served as deputy to the president’s inner cabinet chief, organised from the Élysée Palace a private deal to provide protection services to a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin and who is suspected of ties to Russian organised crime. Benalla, who was initially dismissed from his post after assaulting people on the sidelines of a May Day march, last December also sold protection services to another Russian billionaire. The total of the two deals is worth 2.2 million euros, part of which was paid to Benalla in Morocco, Mediapart can reveal in this latest investigation into the growing scandal which, it is speculated, may be linked to the resignation announced this week of Macron’s most senior advisor, Ismaël Emelien.
The wreckage of Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana's aicraft, shot down on April 6th 1994. © Reuters
In a joint investigation, Mediapart and Radio France have revealed the contents of previously unseen documents relating to aspects of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, from the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana which sparked the massacres to illegal arms sales to the genocidal regime. The documents include a key report by France's overseas intelligence agency, the DGSE, on the genocide, which left close to one million people dead. Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi and Benoît Collombat of Radio France report.