Remunerations: the French Rugby Federation knew the risk of overtaking

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Bernard Laporte, President of the French Rugby Federation (right) and Serge Simon, Vice President, in December 2016.
Bernard Laporte, President of the French Rugby Federation (right) and Serge Simon, Vice President, in December 2016. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

For a week, the direction of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) pleads ingenuity. She claims to have only spotted in November, at the end of the annual accounts, the exceeding of the statutory ceiling of remuneration paid during the 2017-2018 season to the vice-president, Serge Simon. The Treasurer General, Alexandre Martinez, rejected this "Really stupid mistake" on the Human Resources (HR) department. Even reflex of Mr. Simon: the number two of the "federation" regretted, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, a simple "Service error".

The world has become aware of elements that contradict this version and expose the full responsibilities of management. By several means, it had already been alerted, indeed, to the obligation to respect the ceiling authorized for a public non-profit association – the official status of the FFR, one of the most important organizations. country sports, since a decree of 1922.

The first warning comes as early as December 2016. Just one week after the election of Bernard Laporte as President of the FFR, the new federal team seeks the advice of lawyers. This is to learn about the maximum amount of compensation for the three elected officers, as well as the tax consequences in case of overrun.

Multiple warnings

The legal clarity that is provided is simple: for each of the three managers, remuneration can reach a maximum of three times the ceiling of social security – the concept of remuneration covering both salary, fees, but also benefits in kind, according to the General Tax Code. With this precision: any fault could call into question "the disinterestedness" of the management of the FFR, and thus its tax exemptions.

These elements are communicated before December 14, 2016, date of the meeting of the first steering committee of the FFR after the election of Mr. Laporte. That day, in Marcoussis (Essonne), at the federal headquarters, the management voted to pay the principle of remunerating three elected officers: MM. Simon and Martinez, as well as Christian Dullin, Secretary General. But if the company cars loaned to Alexandre Martinez and Christian Dullin appear well in their payslips, this is not the case of the vehicle awarded to Serge Simon.

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