Investigations

  • Lionel Messi, his 100 million-euros-a-season deal and his 'tax saving' charity

    By and Raphaël Buschmann, Michael Wulzinger et Nicola Naber (Der Spiegel)
    Hundred-million-a-year-man: Lionel Messi after a cup match against Celta Vigo on January 11th, 2018. © Albert Gea/Reuters 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.

  • Libyan funding: the new documents that threaten Sarkozy's former key aide

    By and

    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.

  • How French intelligence tried to cover up failings over Catholic priest's murder

    By
    One of Adel Kermiche's online messages before he killed Father Jacques Hamel in Normandy in July 2016. © Document Mediapart One of Adel Kermiche's online messages before he killed Father Jacques Hamel in Normandy in July 2016. © Document Mediapart

    Local police intelligence officers became aware of the growing threatening online messages of one of the two jihadists who killed Catholic priest Father Jacques Hamel in Normandy in July 2016 five days before the attack, but the information was not passed on to the national French intelligence agency, Mediapart can reveal. When the police intelligence unit later discovered this delay they doctored the files in a bid to make it look as if their original discovery was only made on the day of the attack itself. The French prosecution services have now opened an investigation into the affair. As Matthieu Suc reports, this claim of a blunder and attempted cover-up will raise fresh questions over the effectiveness of France's counter-terrorism operations.

  • Why detention of billionaire Saudi prince worries the Élysée

    By
    Prince Al-Waleed's visit to the Élysée in early September 2017. © DR Prince Al-Waleed's visit to the Élysée in early September 2017. © DR

    The ultra-wealthy Saudi prince Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, the owner of the George-V hotel in Paris, remains in detention in Riyad, one of a number of prominent people in the regime who faces claims of corruption. Prince Al-Waleed is an important figure in France and not just because he owns a prestigious hotel here. The billionaire is a key player in a partnership between the French public sector financial institution the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) and a Saudi investment fund. One of his advisers was also a supporter of President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche! party. As Karl Laske reports, this helps explain why the Élysée is keeping a close eye on what happens to the Saudi prince.

  • Lafarge 'Islamic State payments' probe centres on 15m-dollar fund

    By
    A Lafarge industrial plant in Paris. © Reuters A Lafarge industrial plant in Paris. © Reuters

    A French investigation into alleged payments to jihadist groups, including Islamic State, by French cement-making giant Lafarge in order to ensure the functioning of one of its plants in Syria is focussing on a fund of more than 15 million dollars set aside by the company for its operations in the war-torn country, according to documents obtained by Mediapart. Fabrice Arfi reports.

  • Battle against sexual violence at one of France's elite educational institutes

    By
    Students from the École  Polytechnique during a Bastille Day parade. © Reuters Students from the École Polytechnique during a Bastille Day parade. © Reuters

    The École Polytechnique, one of France's most prestigious higher education institutions, faced calls to tackle issues of sexual violence and sexism among students and staff well before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. Some women students have complained of sexist comments and others of sexual assaults. There has been one allegation of rape. Faïza Zerouala reports on attempts to fight sexist behaviour at the elite engineering school where military training is compulsory and which has a “macho” atmosphere.

  • Riddle of 'missing' money from Africa Village at London Olympics

    By
    General Lassana Palenfo at the inauguration of Africa Village at the London Olympics in 2012. © DR General Lassana Palenfo at the inauguration of Africa Village at the London Olympics in 2012. © DR

    At the 2012 Olympic Games in London a major initiative called 'Africa Village' was set up in the British capital to promote the continent. But it was forced to close early after local suppliers went on strike, saying their bills had not been paid. Five years on it is still not clear what has happened to hundreds of thousands of pounds which appear to have gone missing in relation to the project. A French events company involved denies it is responsible for the problem and is suing a senior African Olympic official for defamation. Antton Rouget reports.

  • French cement firm execs face probe over 'financing Islamic State'

    By , and Julien Antoine
    A Lafarge lorry photographed in the Paris region in April 2014. © Reuters A Lafarge lorry photographed in the Paris region in April 2014. © Reuters

    Two former executives at giant French cement manufacturers Lafarge and the head of its security – a former election candidate for Marine Le Pen's far-right Front National – have been formally placed under investigation for alleged “financing of terrorism”. It follows an investigation by French prosecutors into links between the French group – now merged with a Swiss firm – and jihadist groups such as Islamic State. In 2013 and 2014 the cement group maintained its activities in zones in Syria which were at the time controlled by IS and other armed factions. Fabrice Arfi, Michel Deléan and Julien Antoine report.

  • How close friend of Macron ally won public works contracts

    By
    Richard Ferrand, centre, head of the Parliamentary group of Emmanuel Macron's LREM party. © Reuters Richard Ferrand, centre, head of the Parliamentary group of Emmanuel Macron's LREM party. © Reuters

    According to information seen by Mediapart an architect friend of senior politician Richard Ferrand won several public contracts from a local authority at the start of the 2000s just after the latter was elected to that council. Earlier this year Ferrand, a close ally of Emmanuel Macron and currently head of the president's La République en Marche party at the National Assembly, faced questions over a property deal by his partner involving a mutual health firm of which he was then managing director. The prosecution authorities later dropped their investigation. Mathilde Mathieu reports on the latest revelations.

  • The toxic progression of agrochemicals in France

    By Benjamin Peyrel (Mediacités)

    The European Union on Monday gave the go-ahead to extend the licence for sales of the herbicide glyphosate, recognised by the World Health Organisation as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, for a further five years. The French government, which voted against move, has decided to unilaterally limit the licence to market glyphosate to three years. But France remains Europe’s biggest user, by volume, of agrochemicals, including many considered by scientific studies to present a health risk. Mediapart, in partnership with online journal Mediacités, details here, region by region and with interactive charts, their sales in France by volume, which in turn provides an indication of where they are most employed.