The Russian loan contract signed by the head of the bank Roman Popov and Front National treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just. © Document Mediapart
Mediapart has obtained a copy of the contract for the 9 million euro loan that a Russian bank gave to France's far-right Front National (FN) in 2014. The document answers some of the questions in this murky affair but many remain. The bank later went bankrupt, its former director is wanted for alleged misappropriation of funds, the FN's loan has been sold on at least twice, and it is still not clear to whom it has to be repaid. Marine Turchi and Agathe Duparc report.
The fast-expanding cruise ship fleets are forecast to carry 17.2 million passengers worldwide in 2018. © Reuters
The expanding cruise ship industry estimates more than 27 million people worldwide will this year holiday on the giant vessels, some of which are longer than an aircraft carrier, often dwarfing the landscapes of the ports they dock in. Environmentalists warn that they also leave behind them a noxious blend of particulates and gases that represent a serious health risk to the populations of the locations they visit, the tip of the iceberg of the problem of pollution caused by maritime traffic. Dorothée Moisan reports on the dirty side of sea travel.
This sinkhole at Khasfa, close to Mosul in northern Iraq, is believed to contain the remains of around 4,000 victims of IS. © Jérémy André
Many thousands of people disappeared without trace during the occupation of large parts of Iraq by the Islamic State (IS) group between 2013 and 2017, most of them feared buried in hundreds of mass graves around the country which remain unexcavated. But among the lost, whose families continue to seek news of their fate, are also former captives of the jihadists, who are now detained in Iraqi prisons suspected of being members of IS. The increasingly desperate families of the vanished are demanding action to establish the truth about what happened to their relatives, and the mounting anger has become an issue in this weekend’s parliamentary elections in the country. Jérémy André reports from the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.
Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB officer, listening to officials from the Russian foreign military intelligence agency the GRU in 2006. © Reuters/Itar-Tass/Service de presse présidentiel russe
Russian spies in France are trying to recruit business people, diplomats and military personnel, using resources and methods similar to those used at the height of the Cold War. French counter-intelligence officials are meanwhile working hard to unmask the Russian agents. Though Russia and France are co-operating over antiterrorism issues, their respective intelligence agents are engaged in a parallel, largely hidden struggle, with French soil as the battleground. Matthieu Suc and Jacques Massey report.
François Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Benoît Hamon, on March 20th, 2017, during the presidential campaign. © Reuters
New documents seen by Mediapart undermine claims that the substantial discounts that events firm GL Events handed to Emmanuel Macron's presidential campaign were simply in line with “normal” business practice. The documents show that neither socialist candidate Benoît Hamon or conservative candidate François Fillon received similar discounts despite renting the same halls during the campaign. Opposition politicians are now raising questions over the cut-price deals offered by GL Events, whose boss Olivier Ginon the president describes as a “friend”. Antton Rouget reports.
Events organiser Olivier Ginon, left, with Brigitte Macron, President Emmanuel Macron and interior minister Gérard Collomb at the Elysée in September 2017. © Reuters
According to election campaign accounts seen by Mediapart, the French events organisers GL Events gave Emmanuel Macron significant discounts on services it provided for his successful election campaign. The company run by Olivier Ginon, an ally of interior minister Gérard Collomb and currently very much in favour at the Elysée, claims these were normal business discounts available to everyone. Yet according to the information seen by Mediapart, conservative candidate François Fillon did not benefit from similarly advantageous rates from the same company. Antton Rouget reports.
Bruno Lafont when he was CEO of Lafarge, on February 18th, 2015. © Reuters
An intercepted telephone call involving the former boss of French cement firm Lafarge, which is accused of funding terrorist group Islamic State to keep its Syrian cement plant in production, shows the extend of the “worry” that has gripped the company, which has since become a Franco-Swiss multinational. Just how far – and to whom – will the current judicial investigation extend? Fabrice Arfi reports.
Under investigation: Father Olivier de Scitivaux, right. © DR
A senior priest in the diocese of Orléans south of Paris has just been placed under formal investigation over claims that he sexually abused a 15-year-old. This follows ongoing allegations against another priest in the same diocese. One victims group thinks the two scandals could be linked and prosecutors fear that many more instances of abuse may be involved and that dozens of young boys could have been victims. Meanwhile senior church figures have been accused of a cover-up or at least turning a blind eye. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan reports.
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a decisive goal on April 11th that sent his club into the semi-finals of the European Chamions League. © Reuters
Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo, currently under investigation in Spain, where he resides, over his alleged wilful evasion of 14.7 million euros in tax payments between 2011 and 2014, created a trust in Jersey in 2015 from which millions of euros were transferred to a subsidiary in Luxembourg and which did not appear in his 2015 tax declaration, according to confidential documents analysed by Mediapart and its partners in the journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations (EIC). The trust was abruptly wound down last week, just 24 hours after the EIC contacted the footballer and his agent for comment on the documents.
François Mitterrand in 1974.
In 1974, the Ba’ath party regime in power in Iraq approved a payment of 1 million dollars to fund the presidential election campaign that year of the late French socialist leader François Mitterrand, according to a document from the intelligence services of the former West Germany, the BND, obtained by Mediapart and German weekly Der Spiegel. The document refers to an intercepted message sent by Baghdad to its embassy in Paris. While it is not known whether Mitterrand’s campaign ever benefited from the reportedly earmarked funds, the BND document raises further questions about the extent of Iraq’s established close and secret relations with French political parties of Left and Right over several decades. Amélie Poinssot reports.