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Case of the Mutuelles de Bretagne: stop or even for Richard Ferrand

If the prescription were retained, as advocated by the Advocate General during the hearing in June, this would logically lead to the termination of the proceedings.

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Case of the Mutuelles de Bretagne: stop or even for Richard Ferrand

If the prescription were retained, as advocated by the Advocate General during the hearing in June, this would logically lead to the termination of the proceedings. Without concluding on the merits, in a case that has been pursuing this former pillar of Macronie for five years and has earned him an indictment.

Otherwise, the investigating judge would continue his investigation before deciding whether or not to refer him to court.

Mr. Ferrand, 60, is suspected of having used his position as general manager of Mutuelles de Bretagne, from 1998 to 2012, to favor his companion, lawyer Sandrine Doucen, allowing him to buy real estate in 2011 in Brest without spending a penny.

The affair, revealed in 2017 by Le Canard Enchaîné, cost him his short-lived portfolio as Minister of Territorial Cohesion, barely a month after his appointment. But she had not prevented him from being elected to the perch of the National Assembly in the fall of 2018.

- "Illegal taking of interest" -

According to the investigation, Mr. Ferrand signed at the end of 2010, on behalf of his companion, a compromise to buy a building, at the very time when the Mutuelles de Bretagne were looking for new premises.

This compromise had been accompanied by a clause conditioning the purchase of the property to the promise of its rental by the organization of Mr. Ferrand.

It was only once this rental was approved that Ms. Doucen set up an SCI – domiciled at the couple's common address – to finalize the transaction.

She was able to borrow all of the 375,000 euros needed, the annual rent of 42,000 euros over nine years to self-finance the operation.

The premises were then renovated by the Mutuelles de Bretagne, an organization benefiting from public subsidies, for around 250,000 euros.

The opening of a judicial investigation dates back to 2017, following a complaint by the anti-corruption association Anticor following the revelations of Le Canard Enchaîné.

The former fourth character of the State is indicted two years later, in 2019, by three Lille investigating judges for "illegal taking of interest" and Ms. Doucen placed under the more favorable status of assisted witness.

Mr. Ferrand's lawyers then seized the investigating chamber of the Douai Court of Appeal, considering the prescribed facts, the period being three years in this case.

The judges agreed with them in March 2021: they estimate the facts prescribed either since 2014 or since 2015, that is to say three years after the signing of the lease or three years after the resignation of Mr. Ferrand from Mutuelles. In both cases, before they are reported to justice.

- "No concealment" -

Anticor's appeal in cassation aims to overturn this decision. The association believes that the limitation period begins when the facts are revealed in 2017, because they have previously been concealed.

For her, all the administrators of the Mutuelles de Bretagne were not aware of the relationship between Mr. Ferrand and Mrs. Doucen at the time of the operation.

The Advocate General felt at the hearing that there was no evidence that the couple "deliberately sought to conceal" their relationship and the terms of the operation.

"There was no concealment," adds Emmanuel Piwnica, lawyer for Mr. Ferrand, interviewed by AFP. "Board members knew about it."

"Whatever the decision, this case may have legal action against Ms. Doucen," wants to believe Anticor's lawyer, Jérôme Karsenti. He evokes a possible indictment for "concealment of illegal taking of interest", the property still belonging to him.

A first complaint from Anticor was dismissed in 2017 by the Brest prosecutor. The association then filed this second complaint with civil action in Paris. The case was then moved to Lille.

Candidate in the last legislative elections, Mr. Ferrand lost the 6th constituency of Finistère, beaten by a 38-year-old socialist candidate.

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