The anti-corruption association AC!! has just made a report to the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (French Financial Markets Authority) concerning wind-powered electricity companies whose director is the number 2 of a Crédit Mutuel subsidiary.
The magazine Factuel Média has just uncovered a rather bizarre story. In an article entitled “Possible conflict of interest at Crédit Mutuel”, journalist Léo Le Calvez writes: “Is Banque Transatlantique du Luxembourg’s number 2 at the heart of a conflict of interest? Fabrice Bonischo, number 2 at Banque Transatlantique du Luxembourg, a 100% subsidiary of Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale, is also the director of a holding company called An Muileann. The holding company is the transit point between numerous small French wind power companies with dubious accounts and Luxembourg.”
The juicy wind power market
According to the Observatoire de l’éolien, the renewable energies sector has been on a roll in recent years. In 2023, there were some 900 companies active in the various activities, employing a total of 28,266 people (+ 40% since 2019). These are often small companies with little capital, but with the appetites of ogres. The market is buoyant. All the more so since, as part of the “law on energy transition for green growth“, the French government is guaranteeing a very attractive buy-back price for wind-generated electricity to support the sector. It also grants substantial aid to entrepreneurs in various forms to encourage the production of green electricity.
According to our Factuel Média colleagues, a number of these small structures are grouped together within the Luxembourg holding company An Muileann. A word of clarification: the main shareholder in the An Muileann financial company is Panama-based Odessa Securities SA. This company was exposed in the Panama Papers.
Obviously, this poses a problem, particularly in terms of France’s energy sovereignty.
Accounting anomalies and curiosities
Factuel Média’s investigation focused on several of these small green energy companies within the An Muileann holding company. One of them invested €3,000 in start-up capital. However, it is Luxembourg’s Transatlantique bank that certifies the deposit of funds. Hence the possible conflict of interest, since the bank’s N°2 is also a director of the shareholder…
Another small anomaly: the sales of some of these wind power companies are in free fall, even though the selling price of electricity is guaranteed by the State. More importantly, while sales are falling, net income is soaring. Taking the example of one of these structures, Factuel Média notes that sales are €19,300 in 2021, but net income is… €1.89 million.
How is this possible? It’s because the company’s investment income amounted to €1,934,000 in 2021. In other words, it has made financial investments that have brought in a lot of money.
Another curiosity is that all these companies have names beginning with “Parc Éolien”. They have no employees.
Dividends to the sole shareholder
These are the facts on which the anti-corruption association AC!! is basing its report to the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF). Its lawyer, Vincent Poudampa, points out that “according to an expert who wishes to remain anonymous, ‘the net income [of the companies concerned] was passed on in the form of dividends to the sole shareholder, in which case, in view of Luxembourg tax secrecy, it cannot be accessed'”.
To be continued…