Éric Dupond-Moretti suspected of conflicts of interest: what is the minister accused of?

JOEL SAGET / AFP (FILES) This file photo taken on February 24, 2022 shows French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti posing in his office during a photo session in Paris. – The Court of Justice of the Republic, a special French court established to try cases of ministerial misconduct, will rule on October 3, 2022 whether to proceed to trial over charges of “illegal acquisitions of interests” against Eric Dupond-Moretti. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

JOEL SAGET / AFP

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti faces conflict of interest charges.

JUSTICE – A first in French political history. The Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) ordered this Monday, October 3 a trial against Éric Dupond-Moretti, Minister of Justice in office, for suspicion of conflicts of interest. He is accused of having taken advantage of his position to settle accounts with magistrates whom he had opposed when he was a lawyer, which he denies. He has also decided to appeal to the Court of Cassation to avoid such a trial.

The decision of the CJR, the only jurisdiction empowered to judge members of the government for crimes or misdemeanors committed in the exercise of their mandate, follows complaints from magistrates’ unions and the anti-corruption association Anticor, denouncing two situations of conflict of interest since his arrival at the Chancellery. What exactly is Eric Dupond-Moretti accused of? Le HuffPost make the point.

The administrative investigation against the PNF

The first case concerns an administrative investigation ordered by the Minister against the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF). In 2014, they had the detailed telephone bills (“fadettes”) of Éric Dupond-Moretti then star of the bar peeled off, to flush out the mole who allegedly informed Nicolas Sarkozy that he was being tapped in the so-called corruption case. Paul Bismuth.

These facts revealed in June 2020 upset Éric Dupond-Moretti, who denounced “barbuzard methods” and sued for breach of privacy. The complaint was immediately withdrawn after he was appointed Minister of Justice a few days later. But he did not stop there: the now Keeper of the Seals requested in September 2020 the opening of an administrative investigation against three PNF magistrates, which resulted in the complaint of the magistrates’ unions and Anticor for ” illegal taking of interest”.

It should be noted that the deputy prosecutor of the PNF, Patrice Amar, and his ex-boss, Éliane Houlette, appeared in September before the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM), which is due to render its decision on October 19. No sanction was required against them. The third magistrate implicated, Ulrika Delaunay-Weiss, was cleared before any hearing before the CSM.

The investigation against the investigating judge Édouard Levrault

In the second case, the Keeper of the Seals is accused of having initiated administrative proceedings against Édouard Levrault, a former investigating judge seconded to Monaco in 2016.

As part of an investigation into Dmitri Rybolovlev, Russian billionaire suspected of “corruption” on the Rock, Édouard Levrault has indicted the former boss of the Monaco PJ Christophe Haget, client of Éric Dupond-Moretti. At the same time, the judge gave an interview to France 3 to talk about this case and mentioned the case of this policeman. Unacceptable for the lawyer, who denounced methods of « cow-boy » and announced the filing of a complaint for “violation of the secrecy of the instruction” in June 2020.

A few weeks after taking up his post at Place Vendôme, Éric Dupond-Moretti also launched an administrative investigation against Judge Levrault. Anger of the magistrates’ unions and Anticor, who once again filed a complaint. Finally, the CSM decided on September 15 not to sanction Édouard Levrault, considering that“no disciplinary breach can be blamed on him”. A decision that sounded like a disavowal of the minister.

How is the minister defending himself?

Throughout the investigation, Éric Dupond-Moretti refuted the charges. He repeats having only done follow the recommendations of his administration” and denounces political accusations that aim to harm him.

While he was to be heard at the beginning of the year by the CJR, he refused to answer the questions of the judges whom he accused of wanting to ” leave “. The prosecutor at the Court of Cassation, François Molins, “wanted to be Keeper of the Seals and never accepted my appointment”would also have thundered Éric Dupond-Moretti last June, when the CJR indicted him, according to a long account of the Monde published on September 30.

Illegal taking of interest can be punished by five years in prison and a fine of 500,000 euros. In the event of a trial, it is also the question of maintaining Eric Dupond-Moretti in government that arises. “I have always said that I got my legitimacy from the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister and from them alone”said the Minister.

As soon as the decision of the CJR was announced, the minister’s lawyers lodged an appeal in cassation, with the aim of reversing the decision of the CJR and avoiding the trial. The legal saga will therefore continue.

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