French weekly magazines review
This week's dailies react to fresh revelations in the so-called Bernard Tapie affair, allegedly leading to the gates of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency.
Le Nouvel Observateur holds that Nicolas Sarkozy and his aides are attracting the curiosity of judges as a fierce judicial battle rages on about the hefty 400 million euros paid to the colourful tycoon as compensation for the sale of Adidas which the state-backed bank Crédit Lyonnais acquired at an undervalued price.
The left leaning magazine recalls that Tapie popularly known as 'Nanard' bagged 260 million euros in the main reparations deal plus 93 million in interest and 45 million more for moral prejudice suffered, all approved by then Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.
Le Nouvel Observateur backs persisting charges that the cheque was a special reward to Tapie for backing Nicolas Sarkozy’s bid for the presidency. Madame Lagarde who is now the IMF Chief, continues to deny any wrong doing despite her designation as assisted witness by a special court of Justice set up to hear the case.
The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné publishes excerpts of an interview it had with France Telecom chief Stéphane Richard, at the time when Lagarde was Finance minister. He told the weekly it was Claude Guéant, Secretary General of the Elysée at the time, who instructed them to hand the case over to a special arbitration panel of judges. Richard made known his intentions to tell the truth when he appears before the investigating judge on 10 June.
Le Canard eyes the confession and the arrest of Pierre Estoup, the judge who headed the panel, as proof that the Tapie arbitration was indeed an attempt to cover-up a secret deal. Estoup was placed under investigation after judicial police discovered that both men were long-time pals. Tapie swore he heard about Estoup for the first time only during the case. Le Canard believes there is enough proof now to file charges of corruption by an organized gang, explaining that what remains now, is to identify the remaining members of the ring and the gang leader who masterminded the scam.
Marianne also makes the “big Tapie-Sarkozy secret” its cover page story of the week. “All eyes are on Nicolas Sarkozy” says the left-leaning magazine. It notes that between 2007 and 2012 nothing could be decided without the instructions and orders from the Elysée. For the weekly, the big question now is how much Sarkozy received in exchange for approving such a costly public-funded operation.
L’Express also believes that the Elysée was at the center of everything during Sarkozy’s presidency. The right-wing magazine publishes excerpts from Sarkozy’s diaries seized by the judge investigating the Bettencourt illegal campaign funding affair in which the ex-President has been named as an assisting witness.
The diaries show that Sarkozy met with a team of CAC 40 chiefs, famous sports stars, lawyers and controversial prosecutor Philippe Courroye, who was indicted for obstruction of justice in the Bettencourt affair. But most interestingly present in the group was Bernard Tapie who was received ten times by the president between the 19th of June 2007 and the 21st of November 2010 shortly before the arbitration settlement was reached. The right-wing newspaper underlines that Tapie was always brought to Sarkozy’s office through a backdoor.
Claude Guéant, Sarkozy’s closest adviser now embroiled in a money laundering scandal is at the centre of new allegations of abuse of office uncovered by Le Point. The right-wing magazine got its hands on an e-mail in which the Secretary General at the presidency wrote to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripasca. Guéant was recommending one of his brothers-in-law for any business opportunities.
Le Point accuses Guéant of having the habit of mixing power, family and business by using his official letterhead and surname Claude to give weight to private dealings.
And Le Canard Enchaîné ridicules Air France for losing 400,000 euros because of the latest caprices of Gabon’s Ali Bongo, who took over the presidency “democratically” from his father in 2009. According to the weekly, the carrier was forced to dump some 35,000 copies of its in-flight magazine in April after the Gabonese leader complained about the publication in the journal of the photograph of a man reading a Gabonese opposition newspaper.
Le Canard says that Air France acted quickly to remove the hated picture, printing out 400,000 new copies of the glamour magazine at their own cost.
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