The president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), Bernard Laporte, withdrawn for three weeks, was placed in police custody for nine hours, Tuesday, January 24, for laundering aggravated tax fraud. He came out at 6 p.m. without prosecution at this stage, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) announced in the evening.
” No charges have been filed at this stageindicates to World Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, one of Mr. Laporte’s lawyers. This case concerns a donation made in 2010, i.e. twelve years ago, by Mr. Laporte to an ex-rugby friend who was his partner. In this case, Mr. Laporte did not receive a penny. »
According to the newspaper The Team, which revealed the information, two other people were also taken into custody. The investigations, launched in August 2020, were entrusted to the judicial finance investigation service (SEJF).
“We want the skin of Mr. Laporte”
This is a different case from that which led Mr. Laporte to the Paris Criminal Court at the end of 2022. The president of the FFR was indeed sentenced at first instance to two years in prison suspended , a fine of 75,000 euros and a two-year ban on exercising any function related to rugby, among other things for passive corruption, influence peddling and illegal taking of interests. He appealed against this judgment.
The investigation which earned him to be placed in police custody is also distinct from that of the PNF targeting the organizing committee of the France 2023 World Cup for favouritism, influence peddling and corruption.
The police custody of the former sports minister comes the day after the start of the vote, from Monday to Thursday, of the amateur rugby clubs which must validate – or not – the appointment of Patrick Buisson, a close friend of Mr. Laporte, as deputy president of the FFR. The current vice-president of the federation, whose name was proposed by Bernard Laporte (in accordance with the federal statutes), affirmed, last week, to want “embody the end of business”.
The timing of this hearing takes Me Versini-Campinchi out of its hinges. ” I find this behavior appalling, which corresponds to a desire to harm Mr. Laporte, protests the lawyer. This is the third time since 2020 (before the re-election of Mr. Laporte at the head of the FFR) that the PNF chooses to take public action at an untimely time and disclose it. This time it’s in the middle of a referendum. We want the skin of Mr. Laporte. »
Mr. Laporte’s lawyers reflect on the ” possibility “to go to court for” gross negligence of the judicial administration ” due ” of this repetition of the violation of the secrets of the instruction in the Bernard Laporte file. »