With pursed lips, looking straight ahead, Bernard Laporte did not flinch when financial prosecutor François-Xavier Dulin demanded a sentence “heavy” three years in prison, one of which is firm, and a fine of 50,000 euros against him. It was then nearly 6 p.m., Tuesday, September 20, and the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) had just received the resounding requisitions of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) on the eighth day of his trial for “illegal taking of interest”, “passive influence peddling by a public official”, “passive corruption by a public official”, “concealment of abuse of corporate assets”, “breach of trust” and “abuse of corporate assets”.
In front of the 32e chamber of the Paris Criminal Court, a similar prison sentence and a fine of 200,000 euros were required, in his absence, against the billionaire Mohed Altrad, owner of the Montpellier club and sponsor of the jersey of the XV of France. “Far from questioning, the defendants have, by their lasting action, deeply damaged the probity that surrounds French rugby.struck Mr. Dulin, who asked against the two barons of tricolor ovality a “prohibition with immediate execution to exercise any function in rugby for two years. »
At the end of four years of investigation, the magistrates of the PNF denounced, before the court, the ” original sin “ of the Laporte-Altrad tandem, accused of having sealed a “corrupt pact” : an image contract concluded for a period of one year, on February 19, 2017, for 180,000 euros (taxes included) between BL Communication, a company owned by Mr. Laporte, and Altrad Investments Authority (AIA), the group’s holding company Altrad.
According to financial prosecutor Céline Guillet, this agreement, the principle of which was ratified in the summer of 2016, i.e. before the election of Bernard Laporte as head of the FFR, placed the latter in a “Obvious conflict of interest situation which should have led him to withdraw from all interventions for the Altrad group as a sponsor or the Montpellier club. »
The magistrate recalled that “this image contract kept secret within the FFR” was not executed after the Sunday newspaper revealed, in the summer of 2017, despite a transfer made to BL Communication in March 2017. It constitutes a “benefit granted in return for decisions favorable to Mr. Altrad”, she underlined between two legal clarifications.
“The quintessence of influence peddling”
Methodically, his colleague François-Xavier Dulin listed the supposed interventions of Bernard Laporte “in favor of private interests” billionaire, “FFR golden egg hen”. Among the incriminating elements is the support shown by Mr. Laporte for the project, which was ultimately aborted, for Mr. Altrad to buy out shares in the English club Gloucester.
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