Analysis
13 July 2023

Review of the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office activity

The French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (“Parquet National Financier”) published its annual report of its activities for 2022, in which it reviews the year’s most important developments notably in terms of figures.

 

On 24 January 2023, the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (“PNF”) published its annual report for 2022. This document was an opportunity for the PNF to review its activities.

An introductory speech by the Financial Public Prosecutor, Jean-François Bonhert, highlighted the growth and diversification of the PNF’s activities. He noted an increase of more than 10% in the number of pending proceedings, an increase in criminal prosecutions and in the signing of public interest judicial agreements (“CJIPs”), the French equivalent of Deferred Prosecution Agreements, and the growing number of cases involving competition and public finance offences in addition to probity offences.

This overview also mentioned the report of the Financial Action Task Force, which had noted excellent results in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in France.[i]

The Financial Public Prosecutor also highlighted the fact that the PNF had been praised for its work by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”), and the fact that two of its magistrates had been reassured by the fact that the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature had not found any disciplinary conduct against them,[ii] as part of the administrative investigation into the “fadettes” case,[iii] involving Éric Dupond-Moretti, the current French Minister of Justice.

 

The PNF presented its busy year, including:

  • 217 opened investigations;[iv]
  • 18 magistrates working in tandem,[v] with an average of 45 cases each,[vi] for a total of 66 convictions and 1.780 billion euros in sums awarded in favor of the Treasury regarding proceedings completed in 2022;[vii]
  • Six judicial public interest agreements signed and approved by the President of the Paris Judicial Court in 2022;[viii]
  • A total of 685.4 million euros in fines.[ix]

 

Most of the cases examined by the PNF in 2022 concerned probity offences (44.3%), but also public finances offences (46.75%).[x]

The Public Prosecutor’s Office noted an increase in the number of cases involving offences against public finances (nearly a third of which concern the concealment of assets abroad), which rose from 38% of cases in 2015 to 46.75%.[xi] Most of these cases were forwarded by tax authorities.[xii]

The report also included a recap of significant hearings and rulings, including the agreement signed with McDonalds for 1.245 billion euros on suspicion of tax fraud. The hearing of a former minister for embezzling public funds for his family was also mentioned.[xiii]

The PNF also commented on interventions and training courses held with various organizations, and in particular on its participation in the parliamentary report on tax fraud – which led to a speech by Gabriel Attal, Minister Delegate for Public Accounts, during which he announced a plan to combat fraud.[xiv]

 

The PNF addressed the new guidelines for public interest judicial agreements, and set three objectives:

Strengthen stakeholder support for the mechanism, enhance the effectiveness of the criminal response to offences, and strengthen the process predictability in order to encourage self-disclosure by companies”[xv].

For 2023, the PNF mentioned a number of challenges, firstly procedural, at the end of 2023, with the first preliminary investigations affected by the two-year timeframe applicable to all proceedings initiated after 24 December 2021. Operational challenges were also mentioned, in view of the increase in activity, for which an increase in staff was planned, with the arrival of two additional magistrates and two specialized assistants.

Lastly, the PNF endorsed the proposals put forward in the OECD report, including extending the duration of investigations, preserving the role and expertise of the PNF, and allocating sufficient resources to the functioning of the justice system.[xvi]

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