The president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte and Mohed Altrad, CEO of the construction giant of the same name and club boss of the Top 14, were sentenced on Tuesday December 13 to suspended prison sentences for having tied a corruption pact in 2017.
Sentenced to a two-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros, Bernard Laporte was found guilty of having rendered a series of arbitrations for the benefit of the Altrad group – including the granting of jersey sponsorship for the XV of France – after having received 180,000 euros from him in March 2017, under an image contract that was never executed. For these facts, Mohed Altrad is sentenced to 18 months suspended prison sentence and a fine of 50,000 euros.
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The former coach of the XV of France will appeal, announced his lawyer.
Immediately after the conviction, the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra considered that this judicial decision “obstructs” pursuing his mission at his head less than a year from the Rugby World Cup in France. In a statement sent, it calls for “a new democratic era to allow French rugby as quickly as possible to start again on a sufficiently healthy and solid foundation”.
Bernard Laporte having appealed the decision, the suspended prison sentence as well as the additional penalty of prohibition of exercise are not immediately enforceable.
Justifying the condemnation by the “seriousness of the facts”the president of the court noted the “misunderstanding” by Bernard Laporte of “principles of ethics” which he was nevertheless responsible for applying.
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The court considered that the acts of corruption were characterized in particular by the granting to the Altrad group in early 2018 of the very first contract to sponsor the XV of France shirt after a process which offended the historical partners of the Blues. “The competition procedure was conducted so that only the company AIA (Altrad, editor’s note) makes a proposal”estimated the president of the court.
Bernard Laporte made it known, through his lawyer, that he was going to appeal. “The offenses of corruption and influence peddling do not exist either in law or in fact”Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi told AFP.
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Mohed Altrad will for his part study the judgment before deciding, said his lawyer, Me Antoine Vey. Bernard Laporte, boss of the FFR since 2016, was also found guilty of having repeatedly favored the Montpellier Hérault Rugby club (MHR), owned by Mohed Altrad, in particular by intervening to alleviate a disciplinary sanction taken against him.
Under his leadership, the FFR also canceled the League’s decision to cancel the postponement of two Top 14 matches to which Mohed Altrad was notoriously opposed. Prosecuted for these facts, the vice-president of the FFR Serge Simon was acquitted by the court.
Also prosecuted in this file with drawers, Claude Atcher, the deposed boss of the organization of the Mondial-2023, was released from the most serious prosecution of concealment of breach of trust and was simply sentenced to a fine of 5,000 euros. for concealed work.