Death of Renaud Van Ruymbeke: these major cases of the judge committed against corruption

Investigating judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke died this Friday, May 10 at the age of 71.

Death of Renaud Van Ruymbeke: these major cases of the judge committed against corruption

Investigating judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke died this Friday, May 10 at the age of 71. Hailed by the Minister of Justice for his work against corruption in France, he had worked on several historic cases.

“Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke has left us”. It was the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti who announced, this Friday, May 10, the death of the investigating judge known to be a figure in the fight against corruption in France. “France loses a great magistrate and Justice an immense servant,” continued the former lawyer on X (ex-Twitter), sending his condolences to loved ones.

Renaud Van Ruymbeke was 71 years old and had a large number of cases to his credit, some of which had caused a stir. Before retiring and leaving the courts in 2019, the judge had investigated very delicate political-financial cases: the investigation into Jérôme Cahuzac, the case involving the Balkany couple or even the investigation into the frauds of the trader of the Société Générale, Jérôme Kerviel. Due to his career and his fierce fight against corruption, Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke "embodied the image of the independent and courageous investigating judge, and will leave an indelible mark in the judicial history of our country" declared the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation, Rémy Heitz, on X after the announcement of the death.

Renaud Van Ruymbeke began his career as a magistrate at the end of the 1970s and after graduating from the National School of Magistracy. But it was in 2000 that he joined the Paris High Court as the first investigating judge in the financial department. His commitment to the fight against corruption had, however, begun before, notably in 2016 when he signed the Geneva Call against corruption.

After his retirement, taken in 2019, the former investigating judge looked back on certain cases from his career in two books published in 2021 and 2022. The first, entitled Mémoires d'un judge trop independant, looks back on his role in the Boulin cases , Urba, Elf, Clearstream and Kerviel. The second, Offshore, behind the edifying scenes of paradises, focuses more broadly on tax fraud. A look back at some of Renaud Van Ruymbeke’s notable cases:

The investigating judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke carried out the first search within a political party in power in France, it was in 1992 at the headquarters of the Socialist Party. The procedure took place within the framework of the Urba affair on the hidden financing of the political party. A long investigation had uncovered a system of illegal financing of political training through the award of public contracts. Some companies, to ensure obtaining a public contract, paid through a system of false invoices small percentages of the amount of the coveted public contract to entities affiliated with the Socialist Party such as Urba. These commissions were then, in part, given to the PS to finance its operations and its campaigns. A piece of machinery that operated from 1973 to 1990.

This case had earned the judge to be considered as an opponent of the PS. Note that the judge also worked on a case linked to the hidden financing of the Les Républicains party.

It is a vast political-financial affair on which judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke worked. The oil company Elf had carried out several overbillings in various businesses and/or buyouts to pay illegal commissions to certain supporters or to finance fictitious jobs in order to remunerate these supporters or their relatives. The affair broke out in 1994 after an investigation by the Stock Market Operations Commission, which became the Financial Markets Authority, which noted an embezzlement of $504 million between 1989 and 1993. The affair involved big bosses and several political figures, notably some who were then members of the executive.

This case involved the actions of Jérôme Kerviel when he was a trader at Société Générale. In 2008, the man was accused of being responsible for the loss of €4.9 billion. The trader had managed, according to the bank, to fraudulently commit 50 billion euros on the financial markets, much more than the total equity of Société Générale. But after having managed to make substantial profits, he suffered several setbacks and was not able to make up for his losses. He would also have led the bank to cover up its actions.

Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke also worked on the Cahuzac affair in which Jérôme Cahuzac was convicted of tax fraud and money laundering. The man who was then Minister Delegate in charge of the Budget in the government of François Hollande, when the affair broke out in 2012, was accused of having concealed financial funds that he had in an account in Switzerland and in another in Singapore.

Other cases are among those handled by Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke: the case of the Balkany spouses convicted of tax fraud, but also the case on VAT fraud on carbon quotas. And many more.