Press review
21 June 2024

Press review – Week of 17 June 2024

This week, the press review covers the admissibility of the actions against Total and EDF relating to breaches of the duty of care, the prison sentence requested against the former CEO of EDF for favoritism, the accusation of the French government of restrictive trade practices from Carrefour and the investigation opened for embezzlement of public funds against a current TikTok representative.

 

#Ethics & Compliance:

Duty of care: actions against Total and EDF deemed admissible

On 18 June 2024, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled that the actions brought by NGOs against EDF and Total were admissible on the grounds of the duty of care. While the first instance court had considered that the associations had not respected the dialogue phase with Total Energy, the Court of Appeal’s decision allows the associations’ claims to be examined. These decisions are the first to be issued by the new division of the Paris Court of Appeal dedicated to litigation regarding the duty of care and corporate environmental responsibility. So far in France, only La Poste has been convicted at first instance for the employment conditions of undocumented workers, and the company has announced that it will appeal. > Read article

 

#White collar crime:

Suspicions of favoritism: a suspended two-year prison sentence requested for Henri Proglio, the former CEO of EDF

The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) requested on Tuesday, 18th June, a two-year suspended prison sentence (sursis) and a €200,000 fine against Henri Proglio for favoritism. The former CEO of EDF, who served from 2009 to 2014, is suspected of having hired consultants outside of competitive bidding rules. The prosecutor stated that “no competitive bidding process, not even the simplest one, was implemented’’. In total, there are 44 disputed contracts concluded for approximately €36 million, involving tasks such as “communication consulting’’, “strategic consulting’’, “risk management’’, “intelligence’’ or “lobbying’’. The prosecution also requested a €1 million fine against EDF, pursued as a legal entity. > Read article

Bercy criticizes Carrefour’s franchise model, the distributor defends itself

Carrefour’s practices are described as restrictive competition practices towards its franchisees. After the Group was sued by several of its franchisees, the Ministry of the Economy recommends a fine of 200 million euros against Carrefour for significant imbalance. Based on an investigation conducted by the regional directorate of the economy, employment, labor, and solidarity of Normandy, Bercy notes in the contracts between Carrefour and its franchisees the presence of “many obligations that limit their freedom and commercial autonomy’’. > Read article

Culture Pass : an investigation for misappropriation of public funds on the activities of a former consultant now TikTok representative.

The National Financial Prosecutor opened an investigation for misappropriation of public funds in November 2023, notably regarding M. Eric Garandeau, former general tax inspector and in charge for a time of the start of the establishment of the Culture Pass, a French governmental procedure destined to facilitate the accessibility of cultural activities to young people. Currently the Director of public matters for Chinese social network TikTok, Eric Garandeau is suspected of having subcontracted his mission to its own company while he could have fulfilled the role as a public agent. The Court of auditors, in a 2023 report, considered that the establishment of the Culture Pass had been a problematic symbol of the excesses of the use of consulting companies for missions of a political or administrative nature. > Read article

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