Olivier Dussopt trial: the former Minister of Labor acquitted by the courts

Suspected of favoritism, the former Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt was acquitted by the Paris criminal court this Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

Olivier Dussopt trial: the former Minister of Labor acquitted by the courts

Suspected of favoritism, the former Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt was acquitted by the Paris criminal court this Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

A week after his departure from the government, former Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt was acquitted in the case of suspicions of favoritism linked to the award of a 5.6 million euro water management contract to the Saur group in 2009, when he was socialist deputy mayor of Annonay (Ardèche). The courts found that the award of this contract was in accordance with the law.

At the end of November, the prosecution demanded a 10-month suspended prison sentence and a 15,000 euro fine for Olivier Dussopt. His lawyer then pleaded for his release in order to “restore his honor”. Suspicions of favoritism were based on the report of an interview between Olivier Dussopt and the management of the Saur group some time before the award of the public contract. But also on two lithographs by the painter Gérard Garouste offered to the deputy mayor by the group's management and never declared to the ethics officer of the National Assembly. Note that of the five grievances which had originally been retained as part of the preliminary investigation, opened in spring 2020 following the publication of an article by Mediapart, “the prosecution chose to classify four of them", as Olivier Dussopt was able to point out.

The affair began in 2020 with an article from Mediapart, which first revealed that a local manager of Saur had offered in 2017 to the mayor at the time two lithographs by the painter Gérard Garouste, before signing a new contract. The National Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF) then opened an investigation into favoritism, corruption and illegal taking of interest. The investigation did not result in any follow-up, but a search of the Ardèche home of the elected official was carried out by police officers from the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption and Financial and Tax Offenses.

A report dated 2009 of a meeting with the director of Saur discussing the water management market and an email about the evolution of the tender criteria had been found, leading the PNF to think that an arrangement could have been established. Suspicions that Olivier Dussopt had refuted. Le Monde reports that another significant document was found in the home of Olivier Dussopt. It was an email dating from 2009 that he had addressed to the general director of services of the municipality of Annonay and in which he asked to insert clauses in the call for tenders in favor of Saur, according to the PNF and in particular a “specific one relating to the satisfaction of the outgoing service provider”. At the end of its investigation, the National Financial Prosecutor's Office was therefore convinced that Olivier Brousse had been able to benefit from information to which his competitors Suez and Veolia had not had access.

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