The former Minister of Justice Michel Mercier has been indicted in the case of allegedly fictitious jobs of assistants of MoDem MEPs, a new stage of an investigation that threatens all cadres of the centrist party, including Francois Bayrou.
Mr Mercier, who has never sat in the European Parliament but who served as MoDem's treasurer until 2009, was indicted on Wednesday for "complicity in misappropriation of public funds," said Friday. AFP a judicial source.
According to a source familiar with the matter, this fellow traveler François Bayrou is not implicated for his former functions as treasurer but for having occupied the function of "third-party pay", which was to pay the salaries of assistants of MEPs.
In total, the judges of the financial center of the Paris court, which have been investigating the case since July 2017, have summoned some 15 people, including MEPs and party officials, to indict them.
The hearings, led by Judge Charlotte Bilger, began on 15 November with a first indictment, that of the financial director of MoDem Alexandre Nardella, accused of "complicity in embezzlement of public funds" and "concealment".
At a hearing on July 9, this time before the investigators of the Central Office for Combating Corruption and Financial and Tax Crimes (OCLCIFF), Mr. Mercier was keen to downplay his role in this case.
"I signed the checks or transfer orders that were presented to me by Alexander Nardella who had prepared them according to the indications given by the European Parliament, at the party's headquarters," declared the former Minister of Justice (2010-2012 ), under the five-year Sarkozy.
"I think it was Alexandre who made the payslips, but I'm not sure, but it was not me, I could not," he said. . "We did not have authority over the employees, we were only paying, that's all."
- Bayrou convoked December 6 -
The magistrates seek to ascertain whether parliamentary associates were paid by European Parliament funds when in fact they were assigned to other tasks for the centrist party.
The interrogations will be staggered until December 6, when MoDem President François Bayrou is expected at the Paris court, according to sources close to the case.
Marielle de Sarnez, MEP from 1999 to 2017 and number two of the centrist party, and Sylvie Goulard, MP from 2009 to 2017 and currently Deputy Governor of the Banque de France, must also be auditioned the first week of December.
The opening of a preliminary investigation by the Paris prosecutor's office in June 2017 led to the resignation of Bayrou from the post of Minister of Justice, as well as those of Marielle de Sarnez (European Affairs) and Sylvie Goulard ( armed).
This case, added to the controversy over services performed for an American think tank, has cost Sylvie Goulard its place in the new European Commission, refused in October by MEPs.
She had accepted this summer to pay the European Parliament 45,000 euros corresponding to eight months salary of one of his assistants, Stephane Thérou, period for which she could not provide "proof of work". On August 30, the European Parliament closed the case for his case.
The MoDem is not the only political formation in the lens of justice for supposedly fictitious jobs in the European Parliament. A similar investigation was thus opened for La France Insoumise (LFI) and for the FN, in which some twenty people, including Marine Le Pen, were indicted.
Michel Mercier, 72, is implicated since 2017 in another case of allegedly fictitious employment, this time concerning the employment of one of his daughters and that of his wife.
Because of this case, the former senator had to give up sitting on the Constitutional Council. The preliminary inquiry is still in the hands of the National Finance Prosecutor (PNF).
© 2019 AFP