Rugby. What the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office reproaches Laporte, Altrad, Atcher and Simon

FFR President Bernard Laporte (L) and businessman Mohed Altrad (R) attending the match between France and Italy at the Stade de France, February 6, 2022. (©AFP/Archives/FRANCK FIFE)

It fell, like a warning shot Tuesday, September 20, 2022! 3 years in prison, 1 of which is closedwere requested against the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte and businessman Mohed Altradsuspected of having entered into a “corruption pact” in 2017. “Heavy requisitions”, as admitted by the Prosecutor.

When an indictment of nearly 4 hours was issued, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) also called on the Paris Criminal Court to prohibit, for two years, Bernard Laporte from exercising any function in rugby and Mohed Altrad, CEO of the eponymous construction giant, to manage a trading company. Fines, respectively of 50,000 and 200,000 euros, were claimed against them.

Altrad and Laporte dispute the facts

The defendants, who dispute the facts, “have damaged the probity surrounding French rugby”, justified the financial prosecutor François-Xavier Dulin. According to the prosecution, the former coach of the Blues would have made a series of arbitrations favorable to the Altrad group – including the granting of the jersey sponsorship of the XV of France – with whom he had established a “secret” image contract which resulted in the payment without compensation of 180,000 euros early 2017.

This contract constitutes the “sin of origin”, revealed the other financial prosecutor, Céline Guillet, comprising “obscure negotiation conditions” and an “insufficient amount” of remuneration and recalling that Bernard Laporte will not have performed any of the services listed in this agreement.

Intervention with the Appeal Commission of the FFR, jersey of the XV of France…

According to the prosecutor, the boss of French rugby will, on the other hand, have carried out “atypical interventions” and “problematic” for the benefit of the interests of Mr. Altrad, his group and his Montpellier rugby club (MHR), of which he is the President. “Bernard Laporte was blinded by his private interests within the Altrad group,” added Mr. Dulin.

In particular, the prosecution held the intervention, at the end of June 2017, of Mr. Laporte with the appeal committee of the FFR, statutorily independent, which would have had the effect of alleviating the disciplinary sanctions suffered at the MHR. The “cardinal principles of sport” were then flouted, according to Mr. Dulin.

Prosecutors also denounced the conditions for granting sponsorship of the XV shirt from France to the Altrad group, for 6.8 million euros per year, which would not have given rise to “an impartial procedure”. “We understood that the code of ethics (of the FFR) was not the bedside book of Mr. Laporte”, pinged Mrs. Guillet.

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2 years in prison required against Claude Atcher

Bernard Laporte and Mohed Altrad are not the only ones to compare. Two years in prison, including one suspended, were also required against Claude Atcherrecently laid off as a precautionary measure of his functions as director of the organization of the 2023 World Cup, who is suspected of having received unjustified sums from the FFR on the sidelines of the attribution of this competition to France.

Vice-president of the FFR, Serge Simon is for his part suspected of illegal taking of interests. A year in prison, including six months suspended, was required against the former international pillar, a 10,000 euro fine, but also a one-year ban on carrying out any activity related to rugby.

The defense pleadings will be held this Wednesday, September 21, 2022. The date of the deliberation will be known in stride.

Trial for favoritism in French rugby: the requisitions

Bernard Laporte: 3 years in prison, including 2 years suspended sentence, 50,000 euros fine, 2 years ban on managing a commercial company and 2 years on exercising any functions related to rugby (even voluntary), with immediate application.

Serge Simon: 1 year in prison including 6 months suspended, 10,000 euros fine. 1 year ban on carrying out any activity related to rugby (even volunteer).

Claude Atcher: 2 years in prison, 1 year suspended sentence, 50,000 euros fine, 3 years ban on carrying out any commercial activity, 1 year ban on carrying out any activity related to rugby.

Mohed Altrad: 3 years in prison including 2 years suspended, 200,000 euros fine, 2 years ban on managing a commercial company. Prohibited from exercising any function related to rugby.

Will Bernard Laporte resign?

The financial prosecutor of the PNF, François-Xavier Dulin, asked that the sentences be accompanied by provisional execution, that is to say with immediate effect. As a result, the roles of Bernard Laporte as president of the FFR and vice-president of World Rugby, would be threatened.

If the court follows the requisitions, Bernard Laporte will have to leave his functions. According to RMC Sport, even in the event of a conviction, the strong man of French rugby would not intend to broadcast. As a reminder, Bernard Laporte, performing his second and term, will not be able to run again at the head of the FFR in 2024.

CM with © 2022 AFP

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