Kering group chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. © Reuters
Since 2002, French luxury goods and clothing group Kering, whose brands include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga, has avoided paying a total of about 2.5 billion euros in tax payments on earnings, mostly to the detriment of the Italian public purse but also that in France and in Britain, according to confidential documents obtained by Mediapart and analysed together with its media partners in the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) journalistic consortium. Yann Philippin (Mediapart), Vittorio Malagutti (L'Espresso) et Esther Rosenberg (NRC Handelsblad) report.
Image from an Islamic State propaganda video broadcast in December 2016. © DR
A jihadist from Toulouse in south-west France who fought in Syria has claimed that Islamic State has been planning attacks to be carried out by children in Europe. Though only one suspicious case has been found among the 70 or so minors who have returned to France from the Syria and Iraq battle zones so far, the French authorities are taking the threat seriously. According to Mediapart's information, children aged as young as 13 could be placed in custody when they arrive in France from that region. Matthieu Suc reports.
Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is one of the key figures in President Emmanuel Macron's government. © Reuters
At the start of the new school year in 2017 two teenage boys were able to take up places in the prestigious French lycée in Barcelona, even though their applications had missed the deadline. Meanwhile the school had to turn down applications from hundreds of other pupils that year. But these two particular teenagers were fortunate enough to have had the support of their grandfather Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's foreign minister. His private office intervened directly and a visit to the school by the minister was offered as a potential incentive for allowing the children to get in. Antton Rouget reports.
The Front National's Marine Le Pen and her European allies at Koblenz in Germany, January 21st, 2017. © Reuters
The European Parliament is poised to launch proceedings to reclaim “non-compliant” expenses from the far-right parliamentary grouping that includes France's Front National, Mediapart has learnt. The total amount of the expenses involved, which include “unreasonable” claims of meals costing 400 euros a person, and the purchase of 228 bottles of champagne as gifts, comes to 427,000 euros. Ludovic Lamant and Marine Turchi report.
Then foreign minister Laurent Fabius during a Foundation symposium in 2015. © Fondation Alliance Française
The future of the Fondation Alliance Française, regarded as the shop window for French cultural diplomacy, is at risk. A confidential report carried out by inspectors from three government ministries – and seen by Mediapart – slams the way the foundation has been managed. Its president Jérôme Clément, who is close to former foreign minister Laurent Fabius, has resigned. And five directors, including former prime minister and current mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppé, have also quit. Antton Rouget reports.
A jihadist in a tunnel underneath the former Islamic State-held city of Mosul.
The Islamic State terrorist organisation has been quietly preparing for the loss of its self-styled Caliphate for several months. France's security services now fear that its fighters might be moved to other areas of jihadist conflict or into Europe. In particular they have have raised concerns over the role of the terrorist's mysterious 'Emigration and Logistics Committee' based in Turkey, the Lebanon and Jordan, amid fears it may be used to send French and other European jihadists back to their country of origin. Matthieu Suc reports.
Gucci bos Marco Bizzarri (left), actress Salma Hayek and her husband François-Henri Pinault in Milan in 2016. © Kering
French giant luxury goods and haute couture group Kering mounted a tax avoidance scheme, validated by its chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault, to pay via a Luxembourg-registered firm the boss of its Italian subsidiary Gucci, Marco Bizzarri, who was domiciled for the purpose in Switzerland, according to confidential documents obtained by Mediapart and its partners in the journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations. The scheme, which began in 2010 when Bizzarri then headed another Kering subsidiary in Italy, Bottega Veneta, allowed both parties to avoid tens of millions of euros in potential tax payments, as Yann Philippin, with Vittorio Malagutti (from Italian weekly L'Espresso) and Jürgen Dahlkamp (from German weekly Der Spiegel) report.
Marine Le Pen during the traditional New Year address to the French press in Paris, January 15th 2017. © Reuters
French far-right Front National party leader Marine Le Pen was once tipped as the likely winner of last year’s presidential elections, sending shockwaves across Europe, before she finally lost to Emmanuel Macron. In the build-up of her campaign, and little known to the wider public, her policy programme was developed with the help of senior French civil servants, dubbed by her party as “night-time visitors” and whose names were kept secret. But in this joint investigation, Mediapart and Buzzfeed have obtained access to documents which reveal the true identities of several of them. They are nearly all graduates of France’s elite higher education schools and include former members of France’s Council of State and the French national audit body, along with a prefect and advisor to the director-general of the French gendarmerie, and a director of a major French construction firm. Marine Turchi and David Dufresne report.
Hundred-million-a-year-man: Lionel Messi after a cup match against Celta Vigo on January 11th, 2018. © Albert Gea/Reuters
Barcelona's star Lionel Messi has become the first footballer in the world to be on a 100-million-euros a year contract, according to documents supplied by whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks and revealed by Mediapart and other members of the journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations (EIC). They show that the Argentine player signed a four-year deal with the Catalan club worth more than 400 million euros to keep him at the club until 2021. Mediapart and the EIC can also reveal that Messi's club Barcelona helped him pay millions of euros in back taxes in relation to his children's charity after they were advised that some club donations to it should have been classified as salary payments. Yann Philippin, Rafael Buschmann, Michael Wulzinger, Nicola Naber (Der Spiegel) and Paula Guisado (El Mundo) report.
The middleman Alexandre Djouhri has been released on bail by a court in London pending proceedings to extradite him to France. Examining magistrates in Paris investigating claims that Libyan regime money was used to finance Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign want to question Djouhri over crucial documents found at his Swiss home. Mediapart understands these show that the middleman did indeed oversee the payment of half a million euros of Libyan origin to President Sarkozy's most trusted lieutenant, Claude Guéant. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.