Press review
13 October 2023

Press review – Week of 9 October 2023

This week, the Navacelle press review looks back at the appeal conviction of the mayor of Sète, as well as the recent indictments of Nicolas Sarkozy, lobbyist Jean-Pierre Duthion and political analyst Nabil Ennasri. It also discusses the tax fraud conviction of art dealer Guy Wildenstein, the financial intelligence unit annual report published by TRACFIN and the RGPD enforcement case study published by the Irish Data Protection Commission.


#Criminal business law (Anti-corruption): Embezzlement of public funds: François Commeinhes, mayor of Sète, sentenced on appeal

 Accused of having fraudulently increased his close relations’ wages, François Commeinhes, mayor of Sète, was sentenced on appeal to a one-year suspended prison sentence, a €15,000 fine, and a five-year ban from holding the office of mayor for embezzlement of public funds. Mr Commeinhes had signed orders allowing two of his close associates – the general services director and the head of the town’s real estate department – to significantly increase their wages. Mr Commeinhes was acquitted by the Montpellier judicial court in December 2022. His lawyers announced that they will file an appeal to the French Supreme Court. > Read article


Nicolas Sarkozy indicted for two offences in the investigation regarding the withdrawal of Ziad Takieddine’s testimony

The former French head of state was indicted on charges of concealing the subornation of a witness and participating to a criminal conspiracy aimed at the offence of defrauding a judgment through an organised group. Ziad Takieddine, an intermediary whose testimony is at the heart of the investigation concerning suspicions of Libyan funding for Mr Sarkozy’s victorious 2007 election campaign, publicly withdrew the statements he made to the judges during a television appearance in November 2020. It was subsequently revealed that Mr Takieddine had been promised substantial financial compensation, and Mr Sarkozy is suspected of having played a role in fraudulently obtaining this withdrawal. > Read the article


Foreign interference: indictment of lobbyist Jean-Pierre Duthion and political analyst Nabil Ennasri

French academic Nabil Ennasri specialized in Qatar’s foreign policy, and lobbyist Jean-Pierre Duthion have been respectively placed in pre-trial detention and under judicial supervision. Nabil Ennasri is mainly charged with laundering of aggravated tax fraud, breach of trust, bribery and influence peddling involving a public official in connection with suspicions of foreign interference on behalf of Qatar in France. This event comes on the heels of BFM TV host Rachid M’Barki’s dismissal for gross misconduct after broadcasting biased news reports supplied by the lobbyist, and Mr Ennasri’s alleged role as an influence agent for the Qatari monarchy during the football World Cup. > Read article


#White collar crime (Criminal Tax law): Tax fraud: Guy Wildenstein faces four years’ imprisonment and a €250 million fine

The public prosecutor’s office at the Paris Court of Appeal requested four years’ imprisonment, with one year unsuspended, and a €250 million fine against the well-known art trader Guy Wildenstein. Wildenstein, who has been on appeal since 18 September after his acquittal was quashed by the French Supreme Court in 2021, is being prosecuted for tax fraud. It is alleged that he concealed the majority of his fortune in trusts to avoid paying tax, with the help of his close associates, his former advisers and via his financial companies. > Read article


#Anti-money laundering: TRACFIN – Financial Intelligence Unit Annual Report

On 10 October, TRACFIN, the French Ministry of the Economy’s financial intelligence unit, published the final part of its 2022 annual report on the threat posed by money laundering and terrorist financing. The report aims to inform reporting entities from the private sector and public authorities to improve the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The report presents 29 concrete examples of money laundering and terrorist financing circuits observed by TRACFIN in 2022. The report reveals that more than 162,000 suspicious transaction reports were filed last year. TRACFIN also warns on the growing use of crypto assets and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are being used to launder funds from criminal activities as well as for tax fraud and terrorist financing. > Read the article


#Personal Data Protection: Irish Data Protection Commission – Case study on the GDPR application

The Irish Data Protection Commission released a case study outlining its application of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) during the first five years of its implementation.  The document contains 126 case studies and provides relevant examples of the Commission’s guidance and approach in dealing with various situations. By publishing this document, the Commission hopes to illustrate how non-compliant practices are identified and corrective measures imposed. > Read the article

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