The retired president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte was placed in police custody on Tuesday January 24 as part of an investigation for laundering aggravated tax evasion, said the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), confirming information from The Team. He came out of it in the evening without pursuit at this stage.
“He left without any police summons, nor presentation to an examining magistrate”told AFP one of his lawyers, Me Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi. “It is a matter in which he finds himself implicated having been associated with rugby friends a long time ago. He was neither accused of having defrauded nor of having received any sum”, he added. The national financial prosecutor’s office (PNF) confirmed that he had emerged free.
“He was summoned for a hearing by tax police, he went there with a tax lawyer”, said one of his lawyers, Me Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi. The investigations, launched in August 2020, were entrusted to the Financial Judicial Investigation Service (SEJF), said this source.
“It is perfectly scandalous that the prosecution chose the date of Patrick Buisson’s election to set that of the hearing and that the disclosure of this hearing was made the same day”he added, lambasting “a relentlessness of the PNF”.
A second case
Since Monday, and until Thursday, the approximately 1,900 amateur clubs in the country are called upon to decide on the candidacy of Patrick Buisson, vice-president in charge of amateur rugby, to take the head of the Federation during the withdrawal of Bernard Laporte, under pressure from the Ministry of Sports and the Ethics Committee of the FFR.
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According to a source familiar with the matter, this investigation is separate from the corruption case in which Bernard Laporte was convicted at first instance on December 13. He was then given a two-year suspended prison sentence, alongside businessman Mohed Altrad, who was sentenced to an 18-month suspended prison sentence. Bernard Laporte appealed against this judgment.
The custody is also separate from the PNF’s investigation into the Rugby World Cup organizing committee. France 2023 for favouritism, influence peddling and corruption.