Press review
22 March 2024

Press review – Week of 18 March 2024

This week, the press review covers the report of the French Court of Auditors on the financial situation of the French financial authority (AMF), the agreement found by the Member States of the European Union related to the duty of vigilance, the condemnation of Google by the French Competition Authority and the resignation of the French senator Jean-Noël Guérini after his conviction in a case of rigged contracts.

 

#Criminal tax law:

New government tools against tax and social fraud

The government has put in place new human and technological resources as well as new regulatory tools to fight tax and social fraud. A new National Anti-Fraud Office for Public Finances will be created on the 1st of July, replacing the Judicial Financial Investigation Service and with broader powers relating to public finances. The government has also announced an increase in the number of public agents dedicated to this mission, which will go up to 1,500 agents to fight tax fraud by 2027. > Read the article

 

#White collar crime:

Bouches-du-Rhône: Jean-Noël Guérini resigns from the Senate following his final conviction

The French Senate announced on Thursday, 21 March, the resignation of Jean-Noël Guérini from his position as senator following his final conviction in a case of rigged contracts. Last week, the Court of Cassation upheld the verdict issued by the Court of Appeal two years earlier, sentencing Jean-Noël Guérini to three years in prison, a €30.000 fine, and five years of ineligibility, thus putting an end to a case dating back to 2009. Jean-Noël Guérini was accused of preempting a piece of land and then selling it to a community of municipalities in order to benefit his brother. The resignation of the socialist elected official will take effect next Wednesday. > Read article

 

#Dispute resolution & regulatory investigations:

Financial situation of the French stock authority is “critical”, says the audit Court

In a report published this week, the French audit Court states that the French financial markets authority (AMF) is in a critical financial situation. While its cash flow went from 58.5 million in 2017 to only 3 million in 2023, the report emphasizes that the AMF could have gone bankrupted if the State had not raised its contribution by 9%. This decrease of resources is explained by heavy construction works and the creation of a new computer interface project. The AMF’s President emphasized in her answer that she had a noticeably smaller budget than her European counterparts and announced a judicial response regarding the providers’ shortcomings. > Read article

Neighboring rights: Google fined 250 million euros by the French Competition Authority

After a settlement procedure with the French Competition Authority, Google has just been fined 250 million euros for failing to respect its commitments on neighboring rights made in June 2022, following a dispute with publishers. This dispute concerned Google’s refusal to negotiate remuneration with publishers for press content appearing in the search engine’s results pages. Google had already been fined 500 million euros in July 2021. Once again, the court ruled that the company had not negotiated in good faith, as it had withheld information from press publishers. In addition, the search engine had used the publishers’ content to train its artificial intelligence application, Bard (now called Gemini), without informing them.  > Read the article

 

#Ethics & Compliance:

Human rights and the environment: Europe imposes a duty of vigilance on “a fraction of companies”

On 15 March 2024, the European Union finally reached an agreement regarding duty of vigilance. Companies falling within its scope will have to comply with certain obligations relating to the protection of the environment and human rights in their production chains. While France has had a law on duty of vigilance since 2017, Germany refused to vote in favor of a text deemed “unacceptable”. In order to satisfy a majority of the twenty-seven Member States, the scope of application has been significantly limited compared to the version presented on 28 February. The companies concerned are now those meeting the threshold of 1,000 employees and a turnover of 450 million euros. > Read article

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