Rugby.  What the National Financial Prosecutor accuses Laporte, Altrado, Atcher and Simon

Rugby. What the National Financial Prosecutor accuses Laporte, Altrado, Atcher and Simon

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

It went off like a warning shot on Tuesday, September 20, 2022! 3 years in prison, 1 of which closedwere requested against the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte and businessman Mohed Altradsuspected of concluding a “corruption pact” in 2017. “Heavy requisitions”, as the prosecutor admitted.

After nearly 4 hours of indictment, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) also called on the Paris Criminal Court to to ban Bernard Laporte from holding any position in rugby for two years and Mohed Altrad, CEO of the eponymous construction giant, to run the trading company. Fines of 50,000 and 200,000 euros were levied against them.

Altrad and Laporte dispute the facts

The defendants, who dispute the facts, have “damaged the integrity of French rugby”, argued financial prosecutor François-Xavier Dulin. According to the indictment, the former Blues coach would do a a series of arbitrations in favor of the Altrad group – including providing sponsorship of the France XV jersey – with which he founded a “secret” image deal that resulted in a €180,000 non-compensation payment beginning of 2017.

This contract represents an “original sin”, estimates another financial plaintiff, Céline Guillet, citing “obscure terms of negotiation” and an “unusual amount” of the remuneration, recalling that Bernard Laporte did not perform any of the services specified in this contract.

Intervention at the FFR Appeals Committee, France XV jersey…

According to the prosecutor, the head of French rugby will instead carry out “atypical interventions” and “problematic” in favor of the interests of Mr Altrado, his group and his Montpellier Rugby Club (MHR), of which he is president. “Bernard Laporte was blinded by his private interests within the Altrad group,” added Mr. Dulin.

In particular, the prosecution held Mr. Laporte’s intervention at the end of June 2017 at the FFR Appeals Commission, statutorily independent, which would have the effect of mitigating the disciplinary sanctions imposed by the MHR. According to Mr. Dulin, the “cardinal principles of sport” were then disregarded.

Prosecutors also condemned conditions for awarding shirt sponsorship XV from France to the Altrad group, for 6.8 million euros per year, which would not lead to “impartial management”. “We understand that the (FFR) code of ethics was not Mr. Laporte’s night book,” Ms. Guillet chirped.

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Claude Atcher requires 2 years in prison

Bernard Laporte and Mohed Altrad are not the only ones to appear. Two years in prison, including one suspended, was also sought against Claude Atcherrecently preemptively removed from his duties as director of the organization of the 2023 FIFA World Cup, who is suspected of having received unauthorized sums from the FFR on the sidelines of attributing this competition to France.

FFR Vice President Serge Simon is suspected of illegal acquisition of interests. A year in prison with six months suspended, a €10,000 fine, but also a one-year ban from any rugby-related activity was sought against the former international mainstay.

The defense hearing will be held this Wednesday, September 21, 2022. The date of the hearing will be known gradually.

French rugby favoritism trial: requisition

Bernard Laporte: 3 years in prison, of which 2 years suspended, €50,000 fine, 2 years ban from running a company and 2 years from any rugby-related functions (even voluntary), with immediate application.

Serge Simon: 1 year imprisonment including 6 months suspended, fine 10,000 euros. 1 year ban on any rugby-related activity (including voluntary).

Claude Atcher: 2 years imprisonment, 1 year suspended sentence, €50,000 fine, 3 years ban from any commercial activity, 1 year ban from any rugby related activity.

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

Will Bernard Laporte step down?

The financial prosecutor of the PNF, François-Xavier Dulin, requested that the judgments be accompanied by provisional enforcement, i.e. with immediate effect. As a result, Bernard Laporte’s roles as FFR President and World Rugby Vice President would be at risk.

If the court follows the requisitions, Bernard Laporte will have to leave his post. According to RMC Sports, even in the event of a conviction, the strong man of French rugby would not resign. We remind you that Bernard Laporte, serving his second and last mandate, will not be able to run again in 2024 for the leadership of the FFR.

CM with © 2022 AFP

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