Justice is wondering whether the former Macronist vice-president of the National Assembly Hugues Renson tried to obtain “tax advantages” from the government for PSG during the transfer of Brazilian striker Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, on most expensive in history.
These suspicions, on which the investigation is only just beginning, are part of an investigation carried out since September 2022 by investigating magistrates around influence operations attributed to the club's former communications director, Jean-Martial Ribes, 57 years.
Indicted on December 1 for a string of offenses, Mr. Ribes is suspected of having used his position to obtain sensitive information for the club as well as personal benefits for his family, all in exchange for considerations such as goodies and tickets for PSG matches.
In a new investigation report sent on November 21 to the investigating magistrate, revealed Tuesday by Libération and consulted Wednesday by AFP, the IGPN questions possible “influence peddling” involving Mr. Renson.
According to this report covering ten years of messages with him found in Mr. Ribes' telephone, the ex-"dircom" "requested (...) unequivocally (...) the services" of the one who was advisor to Jacques Chirac at the Elysée.
In return, the one who now works for EDF applied to PSG “several times”, and “benefited from numerous places in matches” from the club or other advantages, including between 2017 and 2022 during his deputation.
Key moment at the end of July 2017, the negotiations around the arrival at PSG of Brazilian football superstar Neymar after the payment to FC Barcelona of the release clause of 222 million euros.
Mr. Renson then engaged, according to the report, in intense exchanges with Mr. Ribes but also Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, the Qatari boss of PSG.
The former vice-president of the National Assembly said on July 24 that he relayed to Gérald Darmanin, then Minister of Public Accounts, a “PSG subject” which seems to be the taxation of the transfer, an issue involving millions of euros.
Mr. Renson reassures his interlocutors: Mr. Darmanin is “working on it”.
The next day, he seemed to interfere so that the PSG was present at an ad hoc meeting of the ministry, then the day after, he wrote again to the dircom: Gérald Darmanin “considers that it is good (...). What matters is that the documents we mentioned are produced. They will protect.”
At the time, the minister publicly “rejoiced at the taxes that Neymar (was) going to be able to pay in France”, and had guaranteed that his services would closely analyze the financial arrangement of the transfer.
On August 3, the historic deal worth 222 million euros was concluded and announced.
The next day, according to the report, “Mr. Renson thanks Mr. Ribes for allowing his two sons to accompany the PSG players at the Parc when they entered the field for the resumption of Ligue 1.
The investigation into the fiscal conditions of this giant release clause and the possible intervention of Mr. Renson begins. “We don’t know what was ultimately done” fiscally, notes a source close to the matter.
According to a source close to the negotiations, there is "nothing wrong with a company approaching a government to discuss the tax treatment of a large transaction."
Asked on Wednesday, neither Mr. Renson, nor the PSG, nor the cabinet of Mr. Darmanin nor that of the current Minister of Public Accounts, Thomas Cazenave, reacted.
According to the report, a collaborator of the Elysée sports unit, Charlotte Casasoprana, also obtained benefits from PSG while facilitating administrative procedures for Mr. Ribes' family.
“My client refuses, as it stands, to make any comments, knowing nothing about this case and the facts that concern her,” said her lawyer, Me Pascal Garbarini.
To date, four people besides Mr. Ribes are indicted by the courts: three former police officers and a lobbyist, Tayeb Benabderrahmane.
Sentenced to death in Qatar after detention in early 2020 in that country, he filed a complaint in France, which gave rise to a separate investigation.
“These revelations demonstrate exactly what Mr. Benabderrahmane has been denouncing since the start of this procedure, namely collusion at the highest level between Qatar and the government of our country,” reacted Me Romain Ruiz, lawyer for the lobbyist.
Mr. Ribes' lawyer was not immediately available for comment.