Investigations

  • The plot behind Orange's censorship of its movie production arm

    By
    Stéphane Richard, le président d'Orange. Stéphane Richard, le président d'Orange.

    Frédérique Dumas, head of Orange Studio, the film production arm of French telecoms giant Orange and which has co-produced several major box office hits including The Artist, was called upon to abandon the funding of a biopic about the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in order to protect the private interests of Orange CEO Stéphane Richard, according to documents obtained by Mediapart. The move was aimed as a favour for Pierre Bergé, a major shareholder of French daily Le Monde and president of its supervisory board, whose paper was at the time publishing an unflattering series of articles about Richard’s implication in a high-profile judicial investigation into suspected fraud. Dumas, who refused to abandon the coproduction project, has since lost her job. Michaël Hajdenberg reports.  

  • Scolarité des enfants d’immigrés : la mauvaise note de la France

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    La dernière enquête PISA révèle une plus faible performance des élèves issus de l'immigration, à milieu social équivalent. Des chiffres qui vont à l'encontre de toutes les statistiques officielles publiées jusque-là.

  • Faulty electrical equipment in French nuclear plants poses ‘heightened reactor meltdown risk’, warns safety watchdog

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    France’s nuclear safety agency, the ASN, has warned of the potentially catastrophic danger posed by faulty electric circuit breakers found in a number of nuclear power plants located around the country, and which could eventually cause the meltdown of their reactor cores. Recorded incidents have shown that numerous circuit breakers regularly failed to function since they were first installed four years ago. While the plants’ operator, utilities giant EDF, has played down the gravity of the problem, the ASN has ordered it to start looking for replacement equipment “as of now”. Jade Lindgaard reports.

  • Leading Gaddafi opponent confirms Libya paid 50 million euros to Sarkozy campaign

    By and
    Mohamed el-Megaryef © Reuters Mohamed el-Megaryef © Reuters

    A prominent Libyan dissident who became his country's first head of state after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has confirmed that the dictator’s regime paid millions of euros to support Nicolas Sarkozy's successful bid for the French presidency in 2007. Mohamed Al Magariaf, who spent many years in exile because of his opposition to the regime, is the first leading figure in post-Gaddafi Libya to acknowledge that his country illegally financed the Sarkozy campaign. Al Magariaf, who spent much of his exile in the United States, also says that payments continued until 2009. His revelations were made in sections of his recent book that were removed by his publisher just before publication. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske reveal their explosive content.

  • The disturbing criminal backdrop to Hollande's secret liaison

    Behind the acute embarrassment caused for President François Hollande by recent revelations of his relationship with the actress Julie Gayet lies a disturbing backdrop. The pair met regularly in an apartment lent to them by Gayet’s friend and fellow actress Emmanuelle Hauck, who had close links with a number of individuals connected to organised crime. Mediapart has gained access to judicial documents that further underline the very serious risks run by Hollande, wittingly or unwittingly, during his secret liaison, and which former presidential security officers describe as a major failure by his protection services.         

  • French labour ministry orders EDF to resolve 'dangerous situation' at Flamanville nuclear plant

    By Pascale Pascariello

    French utility giant EDF ignored warnings issued to it by France’s supreme nuclear safety watchdog, the ASN, of dangerous faults in the machinery being used for the construction of a reactor in what will become one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants, Mediapart can reveal. Alerted to the problem, the Ministry of Labour has now ordered EDF to halt use of the machinery until the flaws are corrected. As Pascale Pascariello reports, the problem is just one of a series that have blighted the building of the European Pressurized Reactor at Flamanville, in northern France, with its completion already delayed by four years amid spiralling costs.

  • The key document that could land Sarkozy before a judge in Karachi political funding scandal

    By and
    Par quels juges sera-t-il entendu ?  © Reuters Par quels juges sera-t-il entendu ? © Reuters

    Judges investigating suspicions that senior politicians, including Nicolas Sarkozy, were implicated in the use of kickbacks from defence deals to illegally fund a presidential campaign have uncovered a dramatic new piece of evidence. The document, published here by Mediapart, shows that as budget minister Sarkozy signed a letter backing the complex set-up that led to the illegal payments. The document, which dates from 1994, contradicts claims from the former president that he had no involvement in the affair. Its discovery coincides with moves to get Sarkozy and two other former ministers investigated by a special court that handles allegations of offences committed by ministers in the line of duty. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

  • 'It was child's play': how a hacker broke into MEPs' secret email accounts

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    A hacker using elementary computer equipment and what he described as “a few bits of knowledge that everyone is capable of finding on the internet” has succeeded in accessing confidential emails and personal files of Members of the European Parliament, their assistants and even the institution’s IT experts, Mediapart can reveal. The operation was, he said, mounted as a demonstration of the vulnerability of security at both the parliament in Strasbourg and also among many national administrations which use software, notably that of Microsoft, that experts have for years warned is exposed to espionage manipulations through fundamental - and what some suggest are possibly deliberate - flaws. While the scandal of mass surveillance employed by the US National Security Agency continues to unfold, Jérôme Hourdeaux reports on how major public institutions like the European Parliament continue to expose themselves to almost mundane intrusion of confidential data.

  • The smoke and mirrors of the tobacco industry's funding of Interpol

    By Mathieu Martinière et Robert Schmidt

    The France-based international police cooperation organisation Interpol has since last year become part-funded by the world’s largest cigarette producer, Philip Morris International, in a deal presented as helping to fight black market sales and to ensure traceability of tobacco products. This further example of the intergovernmental police organisation’s controversial new partnerships with the private sector raises a number of concerns, not least over the suspicion that the tobacco industry itself has been feeding criminal networks involved in the trafficking. Mathieu Martinière and Robert Schmidt report.

  • When the ruler of one of the world's poorest countries led his family on a 7.7M-euro Paris shopping spree

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    Denis Sassou Nguesso en 2009.  © Reuters Denis Sassou Nguesso en 2009. © Reuters

    Mediapart has gained access to evidence gathered by French police that establishes how Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso and his family, whose country features on the World Bank’s list of ‘Heavily Indebted Poor Countries’, spent at least 7.7 million euros, mostly from Congolese public funds, during a four-year shopping spree in upmarket Paris stores on mostly jewellery, watches and clothes. Police have also partly established how the clan siphoned off Congolese state funds via a network of offshore companies. Fabrice Arfi reports.