REBOUND – The former Budget Minister was placed under investigation on Friday July 2, suspected of having granted a tax gift to Bernard Tapie as part of the arbitration of his dispute with Credit Lyonnais.
The editorial staff of LCI (with AFP) – 2021-07-05T23:04:59.572+02:00
The facts date back to 2009: the former Budget Minister Eric Woerth was indicted on Friday July 2, accused of having given a tax boost to businessman Bernard Tapie, after the controversial arbitration of his conflict with Crédit Lyonnais, AFP learned from his lawyer, confirming information from the Parisian.
Aged 65 and chairman of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly, the LR deputy of Oise is thus suspected of “concussion”, offense in the exercise of a public function, by the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), the only body empowered to examine the criminal responsibilities of members of the government during their mandate.
As part of the arbitration, rendered in 2008 and since canceled in civil proceedings, Bernard Tapie was granted 403 million euros to settle his dispute with Credit Lyonnais concerning the sale of Adidas. Part of the money was paid to Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT), one of the holdings of the former president of Olympique de Marseille.
For the tax administration, the money paid to GBT should be taxed as corporate tax (33.3%), but the Tapie camp demanded the application of the much more favorable regime of capital gains (1.67%). Finally, in a letter of April 2, 2009, the ministerial cabinet of Eric Woerth had decided to tax two thirds of the compensation at 1.67% and one third at 33.3%.
In 2016, information for “concussion” had already been opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office, after the Attorney General at the Court of Auditors, Gilles Johanet, accused Eric Woerth of having granted Bernard Tapie a “tax exemption”. A source familiar with the matter noted at the time that the solution proposed by the tax administration would have resulted in a payment of tax of 100 million euros and that GBT had ultimately paid 11 million euros.
Eric Woerth’s lawyer hopes for a “dismissal”
“I am convinced that we will obtain a dismissal or, better, an abandonment of this indictment when the Court will have taken note of the documents which we have, which are numerous and which show that no illicit advantage was granted to Mr. Tapie “, reacted to AFP his lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne.
“We are talking in 2008 of compensation for a loss that dates back to 1994-1995. Between the two dates, the tax system changed. The question is: which is the most legitimate to adopt? That of 1995 at the time of the damage or that of 2008 when we repair this damage? “, he added.
Threatened by another trial in the case of the financing of the Libyan campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy
In addition to the Tapie affair, another threat of trial hangs over Eric Woerth: former treasurer of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign, he has been indicted since 2018 for “illegal campaign financing”, in the investigation into the suspicions of Libyan financing of this election.
As for Bernard Tapie, his appeal trial on charges of fraud in arbitration concluded in early June in Paris and the court is due to render its decision on October 6 for him and five other defendants. The general prosecutor’s office requested a five-year suspended prison sentence against the businessman. Affected by a recurrence of his cancer, he did not attend the last days of the hearing, without being represented either by his lawyers who protested against the refusal to postpone the trial.
Already prosecuted several times but never convicted so far, Eric Woerth for his part has already been the subject of an investigation by the CJR for the controversial sale of the Compiègne (Oise) racecourse in 2010. Suspected of “illegal taking of interests”, the former mayor of Chantilly (1995-2017) had obtained a dismissal at the end of 2014 in this case. He was also acquitted in 2015 of several charges in the Bettencourt case.
LCI editorial staff (with AFP)
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