Press review
9 February 2024

Press review – Week of 5 February 2024

This week’s press review highlights the acquittal of former minister and mayor of Pau, François Bayrou, the accusation of a former French mayor on charges of corruption related to the issuance of construction permits, the police searches conducted at the headquarters of several companies belonging to the conglomerate Lactalis in the context of a tax fraud investigation and the European Union agreement regarding the regulatory framework of the ESG rating agencies.

 

#Anti-bribery and corruption:

François Bayrou acquitted in the Modem’s European parliamentary assistants’ case

The Paris Criminal Court has acquitted on the 5 of February the former French Minister of Justice François Bayrou of the charges of embezzlement of public funds, after the Prosecutor requested a suspended prison sentence of thirty months, a seven-thousand euros fine and a suspended sentence of three years of ineligibility. François Bayrou and ten other defendants were suspected of having used European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants who were in reality working for political parties in France. While François Bayrou and two others were acquitted, eight defendants including the UDF and the Modem, were convicted and sentenced to fines, ineligibility and suspended prison sentences. On 8 February, the prosecution announced its decision to appeal the three acquittals. > Read article

More than a million euros in travel expenses… The ex-mayor of Saint-Jory indicted for corruption and detained

After resigning following an investigation into alleged passive corruption, the former mayor of Saint-Jory (Haute-Garonne) was indicted and placed in detention for additional charges of active corruption, unlawful taking of interests and money laundering. He is suspected of having issued construction permits in consideration of advantages offered by real estate promoters, for a total value of more than one million euros. > Read the article

#Criminal tax law:

Lactalis raided as part of an investigation for aggravated tax fraud

On 6 February, the headquarters of various companies of the Lactalis group underwent joint searches conducted by the Office central de lutte contre la corruption et les infractions financières et fiscales and the Brigade nationale de répression de la délinquance financière. Suspected of having evaded several hundred million euros in taxes through financial schemes between 2009 and 2020, the global dairy giant is now subject to an investigation of the parquet national financier for aggravated tax fraud and aggravated money laundering. This follows a series of reports and denunciations between 2019 and 2022. > Read article

 

#Ethics & Compliance

The EU agrees on a regulatory framework for ESG rating agencies

On 5 February, the Member States of the European Union and the European Parliament reached an agreement on environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) criteria rating agencies. The aim of this agreement is to provide a framework for investments based on ESG criteria, in order to prevent corporate greenwashing. Rating agencies will be authorized and supervised by the European Securities and Markets Authority (“ESMA”). Rating will need to consider the double materiality principle, i.e. the impact of the company’s activities on turnover and on the environment, and to explicit the ESG rating regarding each criterion. All Member States and the European Parliament must officially approve the agreement expected to come into force in 2025. > Read article

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