Press review
29 September 2023

Press review – Week of 25 September 2023

This week, let's look back at the French Constitutional Council decision repealing an article of the French Criminal Procedure Code that could have positive implications for former French Prime Minister François Fillon in the so-called ‘fictitious employment’ case against him. Moreover, the hearing concerning compliance with the duty of care at La Poste was held. The mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, is the subject of a corruption investigation in connection with the 2020 municipal elections in Lille. A notary from Cannes has been suspended for failing to meet his anti-money laundering obligations. The French government wants to introduce an offence for promoting tax and social security fraud. Atos minority shareholders resort to the French financial regulator and criminal prosecutor to block the sale of an important part of the group. Finally, US Democrat Senator Robert Menendez was indicted on charges of bribery.


Former French prime minister François Fillon wins its case before the Constitutional Council

The French Constitutional Council (Conseil constitutionnel) has declared unconstitutional the first paragraph of article 385 of the French Code of Criminal Procedure. This article makes it impossible for the parties to the proceedings to raise and rely on procedural defects if they “derive from elements subsequent to the decision to refer the case to the criminal court at the end of the criminal investigation”. This resounding decision is likely to have repercussions on the so-called “fictitious employment” affair of former Prime Minister François Fillon, who was prevented by this provision from invoking alleged irregularities during his trial, but could also benefit former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. > Read the article


Conditions of employment of irregular workers: the Court defines the scope of La Poste’s “duty of care” towards its subcontractors

The SUD-PTT union sued La Poste before the Paris court for breach of its duty of care. It criticizes the company for failing to act against the known practice of some of its subsidiaries, such as Chronopost, of employing illegal workers through temporary employment agencies. The union believes that La Poste’s annual vigilance plan therefore fails to meet its current legal obligations, particularly regarding the human rights risks of its activities, including those of its subcontractors. La Poste’s lawyers argue that the vigilance plan is exhaustive and respected by the company. The judgement is expected on 5 December.> Read the article


Martine Aubry under investigation for corruption in connection with Lille municipal elections in 2020

The mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, is the subject of a preliminary investigation into corruption and illegal interest-taking in connection with the 2020 municipal elections. The investigation stems from a report made by Violette Spillebout, who was also running for mayor of Lille in 2020. She accuses Martine Aubry of having offered a job to boxer Licia Boudersa in exchange for her electoral support. The boxer is said to have started work as a sports educator at the mayor’s office shortly after publicly supporting Martine Aubry. However, the municipality claims to be unaware of the investigation and unconcerned about Licia Boudersa’s employment contract. > Read the article


Cannes-based notary suspended for several years for failing to comply with anti-money laundering obligations

The Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal has sentenced a Cannes-based notary to a four-year temporary ban on practicing law. He was accused of failing to comply with his professional obligations in the fight against money laundering by failing to notify Tracfin of several cases of suspicious transactions or by being late in doing so. He has announced that he will appeal to the French “Cour de cassation”. > Read article


The government wants to introduce an offence of “promoting tax and social fraud”

Thomas Cazenave, the French Minister of Budget, has announced his intention to introduce an article in the forthcoming 2024 Finance Bill making to criminalize the promotion of social and tax fraud. The announcement was made in response to a video posted on YouTube, which has gone viral, in which an individual boasted of fraudulently receiving disability benefits and offered to share his techniques with internet users for a fee. > Read article


Menendez Accused of Brazen Bribery Plot, Taking Cash and Gold

The Democratic senator from New Jersey, Robert ‘Bob’ Menendez, and his wife are being prosecuted for corruption, extortion, influence peddling and criminal conspiracy. It is alleged that he and his wife accepted cash, gold bullion and a car from a group of New Jersey businessmen with links to the Egyptian government. Senator Menendez is accused of using his office to drop or slow down criminal proceedings against these businessmen and to support the interests of the Egyptian government. In 2015, Senator Menendez had already been indicted on corruption charges, but the jury at the trial in 2017 did not reach a unanimous verdict and the charges had to be dropped. > Read article


Atos minority shareholders target the group governance and management

Following the mid-summer announcement by Atos management to sell part of the group to Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, groups of minority shareholders are seeking to block the deal. In particular, they have filed a report with the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) to block the sale, alleging various violations relating to the terms of the sale and the group’s mode of governance. A complaint has also been filed with the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (Parquet National Financier – PNF) on charges of active and passive corruption against two of the Group’s senior executives, due to a conflict of interest allegedly arising from them being financially incentivized in the completion of the transaction. > Read the article

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