Bygmalion: another test for Nicolas Sarkozy

Only two weeks after his heavy conviction in the first instance in the case known as “wiretapping”, the former president of the Republic appears again before the correctional court, from March 17, 2021, this time in the case of illegal financing of his campaign in 2012.

The trial is scheduled to last one month, from March 17 to April 15, 2021 before the 11th chamber of the Paris judicial court. The former head of state, Nicolas Sarkozy and thirteen other defendants will have to answer for a slew of offenses committed nine years earlier during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Here are the elements of the case that we have already presented in our articles dated September 5 and 6, 2016.
Since then, several elements have changed the configuration of this sprawling case such as the heavy conviction in the first instance (March 1, 2021) of the former President in the wiretapping case (he is, however, presumed innocent since he has appealed); the acquittal before the Court of Justice of the Republic of the former Prime Minister, Édouard Balladur, but the conviction of his former Minister of Defense, François Léotard, in the same Karachi affair; the antics of Mr. Takieddine, a Franco-Lebanese businessman who was also convicted in the Karachi affair and is now on the run. Or the incredible political-judicial soap opera of the last presidential campaign of 2017 during which the candidate of the right, François Fillon had to abandon the competition after the suspicions of fictitious employment of his wife Penelope.
In short, the trial that opens on March 17, 2021 before the court of Paris will enrich with an additional episode the great saga of political-judicial affairs of the 5th Republic. There should be some sport.

The Bygmalion affair catches up with Nicolas Sarkozy (1)

The former head of state and 2017 presidential candidate is being referred by the Paris prosecutor’s office to court along with 13 other defendants to answer for large-scale fraud by the UMP during the 2012 election campaign. The investigating judges have one month to decide. Their decision could come before the right-wing primaries of 20 and 27 November 2016. Back on this incredible saga worthy of Hollywood movies that says a lot about the practices of the former UMP and its leaders.

Bygmalion : a large-scale fraud

September 5, 2016 – 11:04 am by Marcel Gay

Nicolas Sarkozy in trouble (DR)
Nicolas Sarkozy in trouble (DR)

BygmaliJustice and politics have never gone well together, as we know. Between the two, a power struggle. The executive exercises control over the judicial authority via the public prosecutor’s office and the public prosecutor’s office. But the judiciary claims its independence in the application of the law, notably with respect to elected officials. This has led to some friction, which sometimes turns into confrontation.
The main subject of discord? The financing of political parties and election campaigns. The first political-financial affairs date back to the 1980s when courageous judges put their noses into the accounts of the major political parties. They discovered a lot of false invoices. Some elected officials even went to prison.
To make public life more ethical, the laws of 1988, 1990, 1995 and 2003 set the rules of the game: from now on, the financing of political parties and election campaign expenses is done with public funds. The State grants aid according to the number of voters. Control is entrusted to the National Commission on Campaign Accounts and Political Financing (CNCCFP). Donations from legal entities (with the exception of political parties) are prohibited. The ceiling on donations from individuals is limited to €7,500 per year.
Is this enough? It seems not, as many elected officials transgress the rule. It takes a lot of money to organize electoral campaigns and to favor cronies. Political parties have become real small and medium-sized businesses with ever-increasing financial needs.
The donations, which are therefore illegal, come either from wealthy individuals or from large companies that expect, in return, privileges, small administrative arrangements or lucrative contracts. The Bygmalion affair is emblematic in this respect.on: a large-scale fraud.

A Luxembourg fund

It all started with a paper in Le Point dated February 27 entitled “Affaire Copé: Was Sarkozy stolen?” In subtitles: “Investigation into the money of the presidential campaign of 2012. Revelations on the small business that ruined the UMP. The mystery of the Luxembourg fund.
The weekly explains that the president of the UMP, Jean-Francois Copé, would have benefited from the largesse of his party to two former collaborators at the town hall of Meaux and then in different ministries, both recycled in business: Bastien Millot and Guy Alves.
At the head of the company Bygmalion created in 2008 and its subsidiary Event & Cie, these people close to Copé would have largely overcharged for all the services provided on behalf of the UMP. In general, this was done outside of the call for tenders. “Summer universities, parliamentary days, national councils, campuses and seminars: Bygmalion is at the helm of all major events of the party” from 2010 when Jean-François Copé became secretary general of the UMP, writes the weekly. A real “hold-up” for some activists. Between 2010 and 2012 “while the finances of the UMP sink into the red, the small box of communication knows, it, a flourishing health. ”
Better. During the presidential campaign of 2012, the subsidiary of the group Bygmalion, Event & Cie would have “loaded the mule” writes Le Point. “During certain meetings, the costs of catering, video broadcasting and lighting reached double the usual rates. “Event & Cie would have charged at least €8 million during the campaign, including 5 paid by the UMP. ”
However, Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign accounts were invalidated by the Constitutional Council, forcing the UMP to launch a vast public subscription to reimburse 11 M€ to the creditor banks. As early as July 4, 2013, Jean-François Copé appealed to activists by launching what became known as the “Sarkothon.” Two months later, the funds were collected. “In eight weeks, the UMP has achieved the largest collection ever made by a political party of the 5th Republic” congratulated the deputy mayor of Meaux on September 8, 2013 before the assembly of the campus of the Young People’s Movement in Le Touquet (Pas-de-Calais).
In any case, we know that at least one militant has not paid his obolus to this large-scale quest. It is the UMP deputy of Haute-Savoie, Lionel Tardy who let loose in a resounding tweet: “Everyone knew about Jean-François Copé. This is why I did not participate in the Sarkothon.
The revelations of Le Point go even further. The newspaper questions not only the opacity with which the contracts were signed between the UMP and the Bygmalion group, but also the origin of this company. “By scrutinizing the company’s statutes, Le Point discovered a particularly sophisticated financial arrangement with a shareholder that remained hidden for three years: a SARL housed in Luxembourg. ”
He adds: “Behind this mysterious company hides the family holding of Emmanuel Limido, a fund manager with strong ties to Qatrar. Coincidence: in 2006 and 2007, Jean-François Copé, then Minister of Budget, had given the green light for the sale of two real estate jewels of the State to Qatar. In these two transactions, the intermediary was none other than the investment fund headed by Emmanuel Limido. The latter had, between the two transactions, hired Jean-François Copé’s chief of staff, Guy Alvès, who has since become the boss of Bygmalion…”.
“A set-up! “Copé screams and asks his lawyer, Hervé Témime, to file a complaint for defamation against the weekly. “It is absolutely foul”!
The company Bygmalion also filed a complaint of defamation. And, on March 5, 2014, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation into suspicions of overbilling that could lead to offenses of forgery and breach of trust.


Jean-François Copé ancien président de l’UMP (DR)
Jean-François Copé ancien président de l’UMP (DR)

Faced with this brutal charge, the president of the UMP could not stay idle. He chose to address the press on Monday, March 3, at the party headquarters. A “solemn declaration” to defend himself from the accusations of the Point.
Jean-François Copé appears on television screens with drawn features and a pale complexion. In his monotone “declaration”, the boss of the UMP addresses his: “dear compatriots …” (!) He continues: “I am not a member of the UMP. (!) He continues: “For a few days, my person, my relatives are the subject of a real manhunt … I have always exercised my duties with righteousness and honesty … I am not fooled by anything, the French are not fooled by anything, the strings are so big a few weeks of very important elections! ”
Then, with tremolos in his voice, Copé announces two bills aiming to establish “a real requirement of transparency” in public life with the aim of “refounding our Republic” (!) The first text aims to impose the publication of all the accounting documents of the political parties benefiting from State aid. The second aims at subjecting “the main managers and employees of the media” who also receive public aid to the same controls as those imposed on members of parliament. Copé also calls for the establishment of an independent authority to enforce these new rules, which he believes are necessary for transparency and democracy.
Needless to say, Jean-François Copé’s “solemn declaration” is a big flop. It even appears as “pathetically clumsy” according to the expression of Alain Duhamel, editorialist at RTL. Copé received a polite but measured support from the hierarchs of the UMP. On the other hand, his remarks are the object of sharp criticism from all the other political parties. In the end, the head of the UMP appears more destabilized after than before his “declaration”.
Fortunately for him, another affair will temporarily put the big money stories of the UMP on the shelf of accessories: the clandestine recordings of Patrick Buisson at the Elysée Palace will occupy the political-media-judicial field for some time. Then, the municipal elections of March 23 and 30, 2014 and the European elections of May 25, characterized by the historic score of the National Front, will put the “business” of the UMP to rest. Temporarily.

A rude awakening

But on the evening of May 25, the leaders of the UMP are hungover. With 25% of the vote in the European elections, Marine Le Pen can announce that the National Front has become the first party in France. And therefore the first opposition party since the UMP is only in second place, four points behind her.
On the television sets, the UMP tenors have the face of bad days. They are well aware that the Bygmalion affair is going to erupt soon and that some of them will not resist. They know that, as part of a preliminary investigation opened on March 5 by the Paris prosecutor’s office, investigators from the Central Office for Combating Corruption and Financial and Fiscal Offences (OCLCIFF) of the PJ have carried out a number of searches and seized some very instructive accounting documents on the fraudulent “system” set up at the UMP.
From then on, everything went very quickly. On Monday morning, May 26, the UMP deputy for Paris, Pierre Lellouche, filed a complaint for “identity theft”. He does not know why his name was associated with a “conference on credit” organized on May 30, 2012 and paid by his party € 299,000 to Event and Co, subsidiary of Bygmalion. “My name was stolen and attached to something very probably fraudulent,” explains Pierre Lellouche as he left the anti-corruption office where he was summoned. “Clearly, the leadership of the UMP must change and clean up all this. ”
Wind of panic at the UMP. For this is not the only “fictitious” convention paid by the party of Copé. According to the elements in the possession of the investigators, nearly €20 million were paid to Event and Co. for the organization of various events including 55 thematic conventions billed at nearly €13 million between January and June 2012. That is, during the presidential campaign.
A new bomb exploded on May 26, around 5:00 pm, when Bygmalion’s lawyer, Patrick Maisonneuve, gave a press conference.
In a deep voice, the famous Parisian lawyer declared: “The Bygmalion company was led to establish invoices that were charged to the UMP when they should have been charged to the association financing the campaign of candidate Mr. Sarkozy in 2012. It is therefore a question of false invoices. (…) Bygmalion intervened in the context of meetings. It therefore invoiced these meetings but with a dressing that was done at the request of the UMP. It was either that or nothing. This is economic blackmail. Either it was invoiced to the UMP under the label “convention” or Bygmalion was not paid… We are talking about the Bygmalion affair, I think it is the affair of the campaign accounts of the candidate Sarkozy. »

The crazy day of May 26

Two hours later, on that same May 26, Jérôme Lavrilleux, 44, chief of staff to Jean-François Copé and deputy director of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2012, confessed publicly on the set of BFM-TV. This good soldier, decorated in 2010 by Nicolas Sarkozy of the National Order of Merit, has revelations to make.
Stiff as a board on his chair, with a face of circumstance, wet eyes, emotion held in his voice, the close collaborator of Jean-François Copé, recently elected European deputy, recognizes that there were “invoices presented to the UMP which corresponded to expenses made for the campaign” of Sarkozy. He speaks of “slippages” that would involve about €11 million. But he specifies that there was “no personal enrichment. ”
Jérôme Lavrilleux evokes “the irresistible spiral of a train going at high speed where the people who should have sounded the alarm did not do so. “He does not mention any names, takes “his share of responsibility” and finally specifies that he did not inform either Copé or Sarkozy of all this. “So there you have it!
One can better understand the sudden public confidences of Jérôme Lavrilleux. “He lit a counter-fire just before the political bureau,” believes PS deputy Olivier Faure. In fact, it was to clear Jean-François Copé before the meeting of the party’s governing body scheduled for the next day. An exemplary activist, Jérôme Lavrilleux appears to everyone as a “fuse” intended to protect others.
While investigators searched the UMP headquarters as well as the offices of Bygmalion and Génération France, Copé’s political party, this crazy day of May 26 ended in confusion.
The war of the chiefs resumed in earnest. The names of birds are flying low on social networks. Voices are raised to demand the resignation of Jean-François Copé.
The treasurer of Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign, Philippe Briand, UMP mayor of Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire, refutes the allegations of Patrick Maisonneuve and Jérôme Lavrilleux. He said in a statement that Sarkozy’s campaign was financed on a budget of €21.4 million from a loan from Société Générale (€10.7 million), donations (€5.8 million), contributions from the UMP (€4.9 million) and the candidate’s personal contribution.
But then, where did the money from the false invoices go?
During their new search at the headquarters of the communications company, the investigators discovered a double accounting. “The real cost of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 42 meetings amounted to €19 million out of an authorized total of €22.509 million for the entire campaign. “[1]
It will be recalled that candidate Sarkozy’s accounts had been rejected by the National Commission on Campaign Accounts and Political Financing (CNCCFP) for an overrun of approximately €400,000. In July 2013, the Constitutional Council had confirmed this rejection, thus depriving the UMP of the reimbursement by the state of €11 million. As we said, the “Sarkothon” had allowed the party’s finances to be bailed out quickly.
One wonders, however, how the Commission of Campaign Accounts was able to overlook €11 million in false invoices from Bygmalion?
François Logerot, president of the aforementioned Commission explains[2] that he does not have “sufficient prerogatives” to prevent such cases. “The CNCCFP investigates expenses in the context of a candidate’s campaign but has no real power to control a party’s current expenses. The annual accounts of political parties are simply certified by outside auditors… We would like to have additional provisions to the October 2013 law on transparency in political life. ”
Nice admission of impotence that leaves the door open to all kinds of abuses.
Politicians, it is well known, do not like to be held accountable by the law. Laws, they think, are made for others, not for themselves. This is so true that during the examination of the bill on penal reform, two UMP deputies tabled an amendment advocating prison sentences only for offences “against a physical person” and not for crimes and financial offences!
Fortunately, this amendment was rejected.

Sarkozy “unhappy

Everyone has now understood that Copé and his friends are no longer the only ones concerned by the delicate Bygmalion affair. In the background, the silhouette of the former president can be seen. “He is very unhappy to see his name associated with this curious news,” said Brice Hortefeux. Curious news, indeed! “The president did not have time to take care of the stewardship” added the zealous Henri Guaino. “Our political family needs a leader. If Nicolas Sarkozy wants to come back, it’s now,” Nadine Morano and Christian Estrosi, the faithful lieutenants, assure us in chorus.
Not so fast! First of all, the investigation has only just begun. It’s a safe bet that the investigators will want to hear from Guillaume Lambert, currently the prefect of Lozère and former campaign manager for candidate Sarkozy. Lambert, will have to respond to the accusations of Jérôme Lavrilleux who publicly declared: “Many people have alerted Lambert. Myself many times. In 2007, Sarkozy had made 25 meetings. In 2012, we did 45, including three giant ones. No one had the courage to say stop to Sarkozy … I saw Sarkozy only at the meetings. The rest of the time it was Lambert who placed the order. ”
They will not fail to question also Philippe Briand, the treasurer of the campaign, today UMP deputy of Indre-et-Loire. It is known that Philippe Briand disputes the version of Bygmalion. His figures are not compatible with possible false invoices, especially in such proportions.
But also Eric Cesari, director general of the UMP. Cesari, is a close friend of the former president of the Republic, nicknamed “the eye of Moscow”. His name appears on the estimates for the bogus agreements invoiced by Bygmalion, according to Libération[3]. “He signed the expenditure commitments transmitted to the treasurer at the time of the 2012 campaign. ”
Both sides will have to give credible explanations. Their statements will have to coincide with those of the other protagonists in the case: Bastien Millot, president of Bygmalion in 2012 and Guy Alvès, president and founder of Bygmalion. They will have to say who paid what and with what money. If there are indeed €11 million in false invoices from Bygmalion to feed Sarkozy’s campaign, as Me Maisonneuve has stated, and as confirmed by Jérôme Lavrilleux, the police will want to know in which pockets they went.
The situation is likely to get hotter and hotter at the UMP over the next few months. Elected officials and executives of the neo-Gaullist movement will have to be held accountable: Pierre Chassat, deputy director of Copé’s cabinet, director of event communication, Philippe Briand, already mentioned, Fabienne Liadzé, director of finance, Michèle Tabarot, deputy of the Alpes-Maritimes, number 2 of the UMP, president of the National Association for Local Democracy (ANDL) in charge of the training of elected officials. And others too.
The publication of Bygmalion’s falsified accounts in the Canard Enchaîné and Médiapart on June 18 showed the extent of the fraud. It is no longer a question of 11 but of 17 M€ of false invoices that are made public. And maybe more…

The UMP deputy Bernard Debré now considers “impossible” the return of Nicolas Sarkozy. If it is true,” he said on LCI, “Nicolas Sarkozy was necessarily aware of the overrun” of his campaign accounts. “It is necessary to cut the dead branches … “.
In the aftermath, two deputies, Pierre Morel-A-L’Huissier, deputy of Lozère and Etienne Blanc, deputy of Ain, filed a complaint against X at the Paris prosecutor’s office. In the name of transparency. “The militants want to know. I want to know” explains Pierre More-A-L’Huissier. Certainly, Jean-François Copé has already filed a complaint against X when he was still president of the UMP. “He did it in the name of the party, we did it in the name of the activists,” said Etienne Blanc.
On June 27, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened a judicial investigation against X for “forgery and use, breach of trust, attempted fraud and complicity and concealment of these offenses. Three judges will investigate the case: Renaud Van Ruymbeke, Roger Le Loire and Serge Tournaire.
The investigation is already moving towards suspicions of illegal financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign in 2012. Indeed, when comparing the real invoices of the meetings to the figures declared to the Commission of campaign accounts, the underestimation is mind-boggling. For example, the meeting in Bordeaux on March 3, 2012 cost a whopping € 605,431.15. A great show! But the candidate has declared only 100,233.17 €. A difference of 80%! Who paid? The UMP, apparently. Thus, more than 17 M€ were paid by the UMP to Bygmalion for this campaign worthy of the biggest American stars.
In the end, it would have cost more than 40 M€ when the authorized limit is 22.5 M€. Who can say better?

Jean-François Copé was heard on February 8, 2016 by investigating judges under the status of assisted witness regarding both the Bygmalion affair and the affair of Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign accounts. He was not indicted in either case. Following this hearing, on February 16, 2016, Nicolas Sarkozy was heard for the same two cases. He was indicted for the campaign accounts case. “The Copé case became the Sarkozy case.

Collateral victims

The Bygmalion affair has also had collateral victims.
In another part of the case, investigated by Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke, Patrick de Carolis, former chairman and CEO of France Televisions (2005-2010) has been indicted for “favoritism”. Justice is investigating the strange contracts between the public group and the company Bygmalion of Bastien Millot for a total of € 1.3 million between 2008 and 2013. Before being the head of Bygmalion, Bastien Millot was deputy director of strategy of France Televisions under Patrick de Carolis. Sébastien Millot has been indicted for “handling favouritism. “Camille Pascal, former secretary general of France Televisions and one of Nicolas Sarkozy’s pens at the Elysée Palace, was also indicted for favoritism in the same case.
Another case revealed following a complaint from the association Anticor implicates Bygmalion and the company Com 1+ headed by Guillaume Peltier, resigned vice president of the UMP. The judicial police of Nice are investigating contracts between the town hall of Menton and the two communication companies. They suspect that there were agreements not to exceed the threshold beyond which the call for tenders is mandatory. Searches were carried out at the home of Guillaume Peltier and at the headquarters of the communications company.
Decidedly, Bygmalion was a company specialized essentially in large-scale fraud. The scandal of false invoices has caused a major crisis in the UMP.
The Bygmalion scandal will lead to a violent war of leaders.

Marcel GAY

To be continued: “UMP: war of the leaders and stink bombs

1] Le Journal du Dimanche of May 31, 2014.

2] L’Express, May 27, 2014

[3] Libération of June 10, 2014.

Bygmalion causes a tsunami at the UMP (2)

September 6, 2016 – 00:53 by Marcel Gay

The Paris prosecutor’s office required on September 5, 2016 the referral of Nicolas Sarkozy, former head of state and candidate for the presidential election of 2017devant to the correctional court along with 13 other defendants. There they must answer for large-scale fraud during the 2012 election campaign. The investigating judges have one month to decide. Their decision could come before the right-wing primaries of November 20 and 27, 2016.
Back on this incredible saga worthy of Hollywood movies that says a lot about the practices of the former UMP and its leaders. Yesterday, we talked at length about the stages of this fraud and its main instigators. Today, we return to the war of the leaders that followed the great media unpacking.

Boss wars and stink bombs

jean-françois-copé (dr)
jean-françois-copé (dr)

In the aftermath of the revelations of the Bygmalion affair, a long-planned political bureau of the UMP was held on Tuesday, May 27, 2014, at the National Assembly. The meeting is stormy. We insult each other. We shoot on sight.
François Fillon brings out the heavy artillery: “The honor of our political family is called into question. The militants have been deceived. Millions of euros would have been embezzled while the supporters are constantly solicited to rectify the accounts of the party … We have listened to you carefully, Jean-Francois, but how to have confidence? (…) We learn that the UMP would have seriously violated the law to cover an astronomical overrun of the campaign accounts of Nicolas Sarkozy. Who is responsible for this incredible mess? Where is the truth? (…) The time is now for justice. The UMP is going to live to the rhythm of hearings, police officers and magistrates, press revelations, searches, indictments and accusations…”
Faced with the charge, Copé agreed to resign as of June 15. Until then, the UMP will be temporarily headed by a collegiate leadership composed of three former prime ministers: Alain Juppé, Jean-Pierre Raffarin and François Fillon. The same evening, Jean-François Copé spoke on TF1. With a serious face, he asked the French people “not to doubt his integrity and his honesty. “The former president of the neo-Gaullist party claims that he “discovered all this when it was published by Libération (…). I trusted the people whose job it was … I am upset about all this, especially since they are collaborators, people who abused my trust. ”
No one can believe that a former Minister of the Budget has seen and known nothing of the false accounting of the UMP and the financing of the 2012 election campaign. Could the UMP boss have been unaware that in 2012, “communication” expenses alone amounted to €33.33 million[1] or 124% more than for the previous electoral campaign in 2007 (€14.8 million)? The meetings paid for by the UMP for candidate Sarkozy alone cost 23.3 M€ compared to 7.1 M€ in 2007 (+228%).
The Elysian pretensions for 2017 are therefore getting further away for this clever and ambitious man. The 50-year-old mayor of Meaux is a lawyer. But he has never made a mystery of his sole political objective: the Elysée. “In 2017, the presidential election will be played between Valls and me,” he confided recently.
To achieve this, he is ready for anything. To anything! We remember the bloody duel that pitted him against François Fillon in 2012 when it came to taking the leadership of the party. This fan of Zorro proclaimed himself president after a particularly close, if not rigged, election. So he was never considered a legitimate leader. “He wanted to control the party’s money,” said one of his close friends. “A political party is not a mafia,” said François Fillon indignantly.
Today, disoriented by the Bygmalion affair, will Jean-François Copé manage to “get back on the horse” to take on his presidential ambitions?
Recall that he was heard on February 8, 2016 by the investigating judges under the status of assisted witness both regarding the Bygmalion affair and the case of campaign accounts of Nicolas Sarkozy. He was not indicted in either of these two cases.
The extraordinary political bureau of June 10 confirmed the triumvirate to ensure the interim at the head of the UMP until the autumn congress which must put the house in order. A Sarkozist from the second circle, Luc Chatel, was appointed secretary general of the party. “A way to give the double of the keys to Sarkozy” smiles an activist.
While the politicians were squabbling, the investigators continued their investigations to measure the extent of the embezzlement. The three investigating judges are not idle. Several deputies, including Dominique Dord, former treasurer of the UMP, are heard by the police on the famous “conventions” charged at full price by Bygmalion. There is no longer any question of telling tales. The investigators now have all the invoices, real and fake.

Another scandal

François Fillon: "a political party is not a mafia"(DR)
François Fillon: “a political party is not a mafia”(DR)

As a result, the financial crisis has revived the political crisis. In the background, the war of the leaders after the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential election. A war that is all the harder since the ex-president has not given up. On the contrary, he suggests that he will soon return to the political arena. So much so that the other leaders of the UMP must position themselves in relation to him. Copé has decided to stand “by his side” while Fillon has chosen direct confrontation with the former president of the Republic. If Jean-Pierre Raffarin has no other ambition than the presidency of the Senate, Alain Juppé seems to reserve himself for the 2016 primary, with the Elysée in his sights.
A misfortune never comes alone. The catastrophic state of finances, the day after the presidential election, led the leaders of the UMP to commit a major blunder. It was revealed by Médiapart, in this fateful month of June 2014. The online newspaper claims that the president of the UMP group in the Assembly, Christian Jacob, has lent € 3 million to the party, without informing the deputies. “This is serious,” insists the deputy of Paris Claude Lellouche. “I question the legality of such a maneuver. I am worried about the survival of the UMP. ”
The atmosphere is poisonous. It is not easy to find a way out of this situation, but it is possible to find a way out of this situation. It was unveiled by the press on July 8. The debt is abysmal: €74.57 million, including €44 million in bank loans and €27.45 million in loans for the purchase of the headquarters in rue Vaugirard (Paris 15th) and, finally, €2.42 million to repay the loan to the Assembly. In addition, 500.00 € were donated to a generous individual who wishes to remain anonymous.
Beyond the rigor of the figures, it is the advantages and favors granted to some and others that are controversial. We learn, for example, that the four closest collaborators of the president, Jean-François Copé, cost 600,000 € per year in salaries and charges. A dismissal procedure has already been initiated against all four: Eric Cesari, general manager, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Copé’s chief of staff, Fabienne Liadze, administrative and financial director, and Pierre Chassat, director of communication and deputy chief of staff of the president.
The audit also reveals that, in its great generosity, the party paid the salary (€8,500/month) of Geoffroy Didier as “Brice Hortefeux’s collaborator. Jean-François Copé’s wife, Nadia, received €24,000 worth of plane tickets and, as there are no small profits, she was also paid as a parliamentary assistant to her husband.
In its great generosity, the UMP has also paid the Treasury the fine of 363,615 € corresponding to the amount of overrun of campaign expenses of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012. However, the law prohibits the substitution of a person to pay a criminal penalty. The Paris prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation on July 2, entrusted to the Anti-Corruption Office of the judicial police. One more case!
According to the Canard Enchaîné, the audit also pinned Rachida Dati, whose two cell phones cost the UMP €10,000 per year, not to mention €9,000 in train tickets and €4,000 in plane tickets. On his twitter account, the interested party is angry: “The informers are in the place! Never the UMP has supported personal expenses concerning me.
There is still talk of a company car for a deputy, gargantuan expenses, representation costs, helicopter and plane tickets … After the accounts, the settling of accounts. The stink bombs are released. The dirty laundry is washed in the public square.
In this context, we remember the words of Jean-Francois Copé: “I am upset about all this, especially since they are collaborators, people who have abused my trust. “Well, let’s move on!
“All this would be laughable if these people did not have the ambition to manage the affairs of France,” says a disgusted activist. “I have just returned my card. ”
The turmoil in which the UMP finds itself is not yet over. Other legal cases threaten the future of the neo-Gaullist party.

In the trap

Henri Gaino, special adviser to Sarkozy (DR)
Henri Gaino, special adviser to Sarkozy (DR)

Because several UMP personalities are in the judicial trap. For the record, the UMP deputy Henri Guaino, one of Sarkozy’s advisers at the Elysée, is due to appear before the Paris criminal court on October 22 to answer for the offence of contempt of Judge Jean-Michel Gentil. This magistrate from Bordeaux had put Nicolas Sarkozy under examination in the Bettencourt case. Henri Guaino, beside himself in front of the television cameras, thought he was authorized to say that Judge Gentil had “dishonored justice”. In the end, Nicolas Sarkozy benefited from a dismissal in the Bettencourt case.

Another close friend of the former president, Claude Guéant, will soon be tried in a correctional court. He is suspected of having embezzled public money from the funds intended to pay for police officers on mission when he was director of cabinet of the Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy. He is accused of having requested the disbursement of approximately 240,000 € from special investigation funds between 2002 and 2004. Placed in police custody in December 2013, Claude Guéant admitted to having received bonuses “not declared from all eternity” and paid “with the tolerance of the tax authorities” referring to a system of bonuses for members of his cabinet.
On November 13, 2015 the former right-hand man of Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to a two-year suspended prison sentence, a €75,000 fine and a five-year ban from holding any public office. He has appealed. But the information went unnoticed. Because on Friday, November 13, another piece of news overtook all the others: the terrorist attacks in Paris killed 130 people and injured hundreds more.

Isabelle Balkany, first deputy and wife of Patrick Balkany, mayor of Levallois-Perret (Hauts-de-Seine) was indicted on May 22, 2014 for “tax fraud laundering” by Renaud Van Ruymbeke and Patricia Simon. The financial judges wanted to know if the Balkany couple did not try to hide part of their assets from the tax authorities and in particular two villas that the couple has the use of in Saint-Martin and Marrakech, Morocco. In police custody on June 10, Isabelle Balkany admitted owning the villa in Saint-Martin since 1997. She did not declare it to the tax authorities and the wealth tax related to this property has not been paid. On the other hand, she does not recognize being the owner of the villa in Marrakech.
Isabelle Balkany has contested the seizure of the villa in Saint-Martin as well as the 1 million euro deposit that she must pay to the Justice as part of her judicial control.

And that’s not all. UMP senator Serge Dassault was indicted on April 10, 2014, by the investigating judges of the Paris financial division, Serge Tournaire and Guillaume Daïeff for alleged “vote buying” in the city of Corbeil-Essonnes but also for “complicity in the illegal financing of an election campaign.” The 89-year-old industrialist and former mayor of Corbeil was taken into custody on February 19 and 20 after his parliamentary immunity was finally lifted. While Serge Dassault has always acknowledged that he made donations, he denies that they were related to the municipal elections of 2008, 2009 and 2010, three elections at the center of the judicial investigation. In total, nearly €7 million was distributed to various intermediaries.
Finally, judges Renaud Van Ruymbeke and Roger Le Loire, who have been investigating the financial aspect of the Karachi affair since December 2010, decided on June 12, 2014, to refer six people close to Edouard Balladur, the unsuccessful candidate in the 1995 presidential election for whom Nicolas Sarkozy was the spokesman, to the criminal court.
This is Nicolas Bazire, who was then Balladur’s chief of staff. He was the best man at the wedding of Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. He was referred to the criminal court for “complicity in the misuse of corporate assets”. Thierry Gaubert, Nicolas Sarkozy’s former assistant at the Neuilly town hall, where he was also deputy chief of staff for the budget, has been indicted for “handling misuse of corporate assets and aggravated money laundering”. His ex-wife, Princess Hélène of Yugoslavia, told investigators that in 1994-1995 her husband went to Switzerland to pick up “large” suitcases of cash with the French-Lebanese intermediary Takieddine.

Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, former adviser to François Léotard at the Ministry of Defense, who himself became Minister of Culture, was dismissed for “complicity in the misuse of corporate assets and receiving stolen goods. ”
Ziad Takieddine, a Franco-Lebanese businessman, is on trial for “tax fraud and tax fraud laundering”.
Takieddine’s associate, Rahman el-Assir, is also being tried in the criminal court, as is Dominique Castellan, former CEO of the international branch of the French naval construction company, for misuse of company assets and receiving stolen goods.
Edouard Balladur and François Léotard cannot be sent before a criminal court, but they could be called upon to explain themselves before the Court of Justice of the Republic, which has sole jurisdiction to judge members of the government for crimes and misdemeanors committed in the exercise of their functions.
The defendants are suspected of having participated in the implementation of a vast system of retro-commissions linked to the sale of submarines to Pakistan and frigates to Saudi Arabia (Agosta and Sawari II contracts). According to the investigators, €33 million of “undue” commissions were paid to hidden intermediaries via offshore companies. Part of it was used to finance Edouard Balladur’s campaign.
When Jacques Chirac took office, he asked the Minister of Defense to investigate these arms sales. The investigation concluded that commissions and retro-commissions existed. In 1996 the commissions were no longer paid to Pakistani dignitaries. On May 8, 2002, a car bomb attack against the personnel of the Direction des constructions navales (DCN) in Karachi killed 15 people, including 11 French engineers and technicians. According to a DST report called Nautilus, the attack was committed in retaliation for the cessation of commissions promised when the contract was signed in 1994. However, there is no evidence to support this hypothesis.
The trial of the six defendants for “abuse of corporate assets” in the financial case, originally scheduled for 2015, was postponed following an appeal by several defendants against the judges’ order to refer them to trial.
Created in 2002, the Union Pour un mouvement Populaire (UMP) changed its name in May 2015 to Les Républicains.

Marcel GAY

[1] Report on the General Publication of the accounts of political parties and groupings for the 2012 financial year published on January 22, 2014 in the Journal Officiel.