A year before the Rugby World Cup organized in France, from 8 September to 28 October 2023, the staff of the Ovalie tricolor gathered in the courtrooms for a two-week hearing. From Wednesday 7 September to Thursday 22 September five barons of the discipline are judged by the 32And Chamber of the Criminal Court of Paris during a highly publicized trial.
After four years of investigation, the National Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) has summoned Bernard Laporte, president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) since December 2016, a successful former coach of the XV of France (1999-2007) and former secretary of state for Sport under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2009), for “illicit taking of interests”, “trafficking of passive influences by a public official”, “passive bribery by a public official”, “concealment of abuse of company assets “,” abuse of trust “and” abuse of company assets “.
President and owner of the Montpellier Hérault Rugby club since 2011 and sponsor of the shirt of the XV of France, the entrepreneur and billionaire Mohed Altrad, is himself fired for “active influence dealing”, “active corruption” and “abuse of social property” . Vice-president of the FFR and right-hand man of Laporte since 2016, Serge Simon appears, himself, for “illegal taking of interests”.
In a separate file concerning his FFR supplier Score XV company, Claude Atcher, general manager of the public interest group (GIP) France 2023, responsible for organizing the Rugby World Cup in France, is tried for “concealment of ‘breach of trust’, ‘abuse of company assets’ and ‘hidden work for concealment of activities.’ The manager was summoned to the bar when he was suspended as a precautionary measure from the position of general manager of GIP France 2023, to at the end of August, by the Ministry of Sport until the end of an administrative investigation on its managerial practices.
Longtime associate of Claude Atcher and “legal manager” of Score XV, Benoît Rover is also called to appear by the PNF for “complicity in the misuse of company assets.”
Disclosure of the private contract
At the origin of the Laporte-Altrad dossier, which will be at the center of the process, there is an image contract stipulated for a period of one year, on February 19, 2017, for 180,000 euros (including taxes) between BL Communication, a company of Bernard Laporte, and Altrad Investments Authority (AIA), holding company of the Altrad group. Said contract, the principle of which was ratified in the summer of 2016, i.e. before the election of Bernard Laporte as head of the FFR, provides, among other things, for the transfer of the latter’s image rights and its participation in four seminars or communication operations organized by Mr. Altrad.
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