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Ten days away from running for his succession at the head of the French Rugby Federation, Bernard Laporte was taken into custody on Tuesday morning in Paris, in the investigation of his links with the Altrad group, sponsor of the team of France.
The President of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), Bernard Laporte, the businessman Mohed Altrad, owner of the Montpellier club, as well as Claude Atcher, the boss of the Mondial-2023 organized by France, and two senior officials of the Federation, Serge Simon and Nicolas Hourquet, were placed, Tuesday, September 22, in police custody in Paris.
The boss of rugby French is in particular suspected of having favored Montpellier Hérault Racing (MHR), by intervening with the FFR appeal committee to reduce sanctions against the club at the end of June 2017. Bernard Laporte arrived on Tuesday morning at the premises of the Economic Crime Repression Brigade (BRDE) to which the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) had entrusted the investigations in 2017.
A matter of sponsorship
This former coach of the Blues (2000-2007), who then became Secretary of State for Sports for Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2009), has always defended himself from any intervention in favor of Montpellier, even if he admitted to having telephoned to the chairman of the commission, Jean-Daniel Simonet.
Inspectors general of the Ministry of Sports also established in a report sent to justice that the decisions of the commission had been “modified”, between June 29 and 30, 2017. Initially, the appeal commission would have decided to confirm the sanctions pronounced by the League (LNR), a 70,000 euros fine and a closed-door match, before moving to a 20,000-euro fine and a stay of the closed-door match. The case concerned the deployment of banners hostile to the League by supporters of the MHR.
Three months earlier, the Altrad group, specializing in building materials, had become the first jersey sponsor of the XV of France, before supporting the French candidacy, ultimately victorious, for the organization of the 2023 World Cup. the case in August 2017, the Journal du dimanche also brought to light the existence of a contract between BL Communication, a company managed by Bernard Laporte, and Altrad Investment Authority, for an amount of 150,000 euros. Under pressure, the former Toulon manager had given up.
The police have already heard from several protagonists in 2019, in particular the three members of the FFR appeal commission, who were to judge the case on June 29, 2017.
Against a backdrop of strong tensions between the Rugby League and the Federation, the affair had spoiled the start of the mandate of Bernard Laporte, elected on December 3, 2016. Ten days from running for succession at the head of the Federation, she now risks to interfere with the home stretch of his campaign with the clubs, responsible for deciding him against his main opponent, Florian Grill. Monday, Bernard Laporte’s lawyer, Me Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, denounced the “timing” of this summons, “judicial interference” in the electoral process according to him.