Analysis
14 July 2018

Clearstream case – an opportunity to detail some constituent elements of influence trafficking and corruptions

Bastille Day Newsletter 2018 - What’s Hot

 

The Clearstream case is a major political and financial scandal from the last decade which was closely linked with the Taiwan frigates case in the nineties.

Thomson-CSF along with the DCN (“Direction des constructions navales” – the Shipbuilding directorate) entered in business with the Taiwanese naval forces in 1989 in order to sell six military frigates. At first, the French President, François Mitterrand, was opposed to this deal on the advice of the Minister of foreign affairs, who wanted to preserve good relationships with China.

Between 1989 and 1991, many payments were offered to Chinese high-ranking officials, Taiwanese military officers and other French politicians for a total amount of 3 billion francs. But after a change of government in Taiwan, in 2001, bribes were exposed and Thomson sued before an arbitration tribunal which sentenced the French company to pay more than 1 billion dollars.

In 2004, this case came up again with the receipt by investigating magistrateVan Ruymbeke of a list of bank accounts (from the Luxembourgish bank Clearstream) whose owners were supposed to be linked with the bribes of the Taiwan Frigates. This document incriminated many French officials including Nicolas Sarkozy (minister of Economy at the time). Finally, the inquiry showed that this document was a fake with purpose of harming the people listed (mostly business men who were leading the arms market in France) and revealed the identity of the authors (Jean Louis Gergorin and Imad Lahoud) who were sent to jail on the ground of defamation.

Many protagonists were involved in these cases and only few are mentioned here.

However, a new judgment concerning the Clearstream case has been delivered by the French Supreme Court (‟Cour de Cassationˮ) on October 25, 20171. Indeed, two other protagonist of the Clearstream case were prosecuted for influence peddling the director of the DCN (at the time of the scandal, Gérard-Philippe Menayas) and a member of the DST (direction de la Surveillance du territoire – the internal intelligence service), also working as a business intelligence consultant. The director of the DCN had asked the consultant to use his influence toward the DST to get information about the content of the “Clearstream list”. This high Court decision concerned only the ex-director of the DCN (the other had not appealed the first instance judgment). He was convicted for active influence peddling by the first instance tribunal and court of appeal.

In its decision of October 25, 2017, the French Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Court of appeal considering that: “obtaining a document through an agent of the public administration does not amount to obtaining a favor from a public administration within the meaning of Article 433-2 of the Criminal Code, even if this document is not accessible to the public”.

According to case law, the favorable decision of the public authority must have been obtained by illegitimate means to characterize the influence peddling.

Related content

Publication
14 July 2021
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021
Happy 2021 Bastille Day! Lawyers at Navacelle thought you might be interested in reviewing a selection we made of noticeable events which occurred in France i...
Stéphane de Navacelle
Managing partner Navacelle
Clémentine Duverne
Partner Navacelle
Julie Zorrilla
Partner Navacelle
Analysis
The in-house attorney status in France: a bygone idea or an emerging one?
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021 - Legislative, Regulatory & Policy Updates
Analysis
The evaluation mission of the Sapin II law calls for a boost in France’s anti-corruption policy
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021 - Legislative, Regulatory & Policy Updates
Analysis
Criminal liability’s transfer to the acquiring company in the event of a merger by acquisition and consecutive due dil...
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021 - Enforcement & Court Decisions
Analysis
The PNF looks back on a very unusual 2020 year
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021 - Legislative, Regulatory & Policy Updates
Analysis
Compliance in the public sector: The Ministry of the Armed Forces issued its Code of prevention of breaches of probity
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021 - Legislative, Regulatory & Policy Updates
Analysis
What will be the impact of the transposition of the EU Directive on the protection of whistleblowers into French law?
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021 - Legislative, Regulatory & Policy updates
Analysis
The professional secrecy threatened by recent case law on seizure
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021 - Enforcement & Court Decisions
Analysis
Short overview of the French legal requirement for internal controls relating to the AML-CFT
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021 - Legislative, Regulatory & Policy Updates
Analysis
Preserving the primacy of due process and fair trial rights in the special context of the Coronavirus pandemic
Bastille Day Newsletter 2021 - Enforcement & Court Decisions