Press review
3 May 2024

Press review – Week of 29 April 2024

This week's press review focuses on the indictments of Arnaud Lagardère for misuse of company assets and abuse of power, several members of the Mulliez family for tax fraud and the mayor of Barcarès for corruption, as well as the creation of the National Prosecuting Authority against Organized Crime (“PNACO”).

 

#White collar crime:

Arnaud Lagardère under investigation for misuse of corporate assets and abuse of power

Arnaud Lagardère, Chairman and CEO of the group of the same name, was charged on Monday 29 April with “dissemination of false or misleading information, vote buying, misuse of company assets and abuse of power and failure to file accounts”. He is suspected of having used the funds of certain Group companies to finance his personal expenses. This indictment is the result of a judicial investigation initiated by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) following a complaint from the Amber Capital fund, a report from the French Financial Markets Authority (AMF) and a complaint from the French High Council of Statutory Auditors (Haut Conseil du commissariat aux comptes). The latter had discovered irregular financial flows of 202 million euros between 2014 and 2018 as part of an investigation launched in 2019. The group’s former deputy CEO, Pierre Leroy, and two former auditors have also been charged with “vote buying, complicity in the misappropriation of company assets and the falsification of financial statements” and “complicity in the misappropriation of company assets” respectively. > Read article

Repented status, new prosecution Office: Dupond-Moretti announces new measures against organized crime

The French Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, has unveiled some of the measures included in the new “shock plan” to combat organized crime. These include the creation of a National Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime (PNACO) and a reform of the status of repentant drug traffickers, which is rarely offered or applied to those who agree to cooperate with the justice system.  > Read article

 

#Criminal tax law:

Several members of the Mulliez empire under investigation for suspected tax fraud

In 2019, two members of the Mulliez family, which owns Auchan, Leroy-Merlin and Decathlon, were charged with breach of trust and tax fraud laundering as part of a judicial investigation opened in 2012. The investigation was opened following a complaint from a former family member alleging “very large loans, without any written documentation and without interest, granted by group structures to foreign companies (several hundred million) and to individuals through personal or family non-trading companies (several million)”. Although the investigation was closed for the first time in 2023, the Department of National and International Audits (DVNI) has since provided the investigating judge with documents from the ongoing tax audit. These documents are likely to have an impact on the outcome of the proceedings, by altering the conclusions reached. The Mulliez Family Association (AFM) believes that the financial flows are “transparent and in line with the logic of economic development” and that no tax advantage was sought or obtained. The association has announced its intention to file a complaint for breach of secrecy. > Read article

 

#Anti-Bribery and Corruption:

Alain Ferrand, mayor of French city Barcares, charged with “corruption”

Alain Ferrand, the mayor of Le Barcarès, has been charged and remanded in custody for “corruption by public official, favoritism, illegal taking of interest, participation in a criminal organization, money-laundering and undeclared foreign transfers”. The judicial investigation opened by the Specialized Interregional Jurisdiction (“JIRS”) in Marseille relates to suspicions of a cartel between the mayor and a company director between 2012 and 2024, aimed at favoring the latter’s company in tenders for the municipal Christmas market. The company director has also been charged with “corruption of an elected official, concealment of favoritism and concealment of unlawful enrichment”. > Read article

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