According to revelations from Mediapart on Friday, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) has retained the offense of “favouritism” for a future trial against Olivier Dussopt, which will relate to a public contract concluded at the end of the 2000s with the Saur water distribution group. The investigation had started with two lithographs by the painter Gérard Garouste which had been offered to him by a local Saur manager in 2017. He then returned the paintings.
“In May 2020, a press article thought it could question my relationship with a water group in the town of Annonay, of which I was the mayor” et “the financial prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation and carried out numerous checks”reported the minister on Saturday on France Inter. “At the end of this investigative work, the prosecution had grouped the facts into five points and I note that the explanations given with my lawyer convinced the prosecution of my good faith since on four of these five points, the prosecution decided that there was a need” to classify them, without “prosecution for corruption, taking of interest or enrichment”, he added.
More “the prosecution considers that in the context of a public procurement procedure in 2009 […]there could be an offense of favouritism”, “a thesis that I dispute”, hammered Mr. Dussopt.
According to Mediapart, the search carried out at the Minister’s premises by financial investigators from Oclciff (Central Office for the Fight against Financial and Tax Offences) revealed “exchanges between Olivier Dussopt and (the Saur) seeming to leave little doubt about the existence of an arrangement around a public market dated 2009-2010”, when he was deputy and socialist mayor of this commune of Ardèche.
“Born has no choice”
Mr. Dussopt asserts that he has no “only one wish: to continue to convince and explain how things happened to convince (s) in good faith”. Still, this case comes at the worst time for the government: the pension marathon starts in Parliament and two new days of mobilization are scheduled by the inter-union, next Tuesday and Saturday, against the decline in the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old.
“Olivier Dussopt will have favored someone in his life”, tackled the rebellious Hadrien Clouet on Twitter. But “ no favoritism for hard-working France”, underlined the communist deputy Sébastien Jumel. Mr. Dussopt is ” guilty “ having “favoured the most unjust responses, those that will penalize the greatest number of our fellow citizens”, supported the socialist Jérôme Guedj on France 2 on Saturday.
Can he stay on? Ms Borne “does not have much choice because it would further weaken this reform”according to this deputy, who thinks that Olivier Dussopt “is not going to have the spirit totally available to defend, badly, the reform”. At the heart of the government system, he is also at the helm, with the Minister of the Interior, on the immigration bill, and in the coming months at the forefront on a bill dedicated to full employment.