New episode in the racketeering affair of traders in the Val-Fourré market.
Sidi El Haimer, the first deputy mayor (LR) of Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines) was indicted on Tuesday in Versailles for “witness tampering” before being released under judicial supervision.
"He is accused of having occupied a place in a scheme which consisted in putting pressure on the victims," specifies the prosecutor of Versailles, Maryvonne Caillibotte.
Concretely, these are people who had complained of racketeering and who afterwards withdrew their complaint.
The elected 42-year-old was taken into custody Monday in the premises of the judicial police of Versailles.
Faced with questions from investigators from the economic and financial affairs division, Sidi El Haimer disputes what he is accused of.
"I dispute all the facts and I will bring all the necessary information to justice," said the elected official this Wednesday evening.
Shopkeepers owed "tips" to ushers
In this case, five men have been indicted since the spring of 2019. They are suspected of having implemented a system of racketeering merchants which had been thriving since 2013. The case had taken a decisive turn after an operation of anti-fraud checks conducted in early April 2019 at the market.
On this occasion, the police had discovered 2200 euros in the pockets of the ushers, while their activity of selling parking tickets could only justify 1270 euros in revenue.
Immediately afterwards, the itinerant traders refused to unpack their goods to protest against this operation which they considered "oversized", against a background of suspicion of pressure on the part of the ushers ...
Mayor Mantes-la-Jolie breaks the silence on the Val-Fourré market
For several years, rumors, never substantiated, circulated between the stalls of the Val-Fourré market, one of the most important in Ile-de-France.
Six letters, probably written by traders who had been ransomed, had particularly attracted the attention of the police.
This market welcomes, three times a week, only 41 regular traders and subscribers.
The others, more than 160 people, are flying merchants who pay their place at the end of each market.
And some complain about having to pay cash to the ushers to get places to sell their merchandise ...
The suspects would have pocketed 2 million euros
The amounts which would have been collected fraudulently by the ushers amount to thousands of euros, three times a week.
The investigators of the judicial police estimate at around 2 million euros the sum pocketed by the suspects, in ten years.
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Since the start of the investigation, only one of the suspects has admitted to having received "tips" from traders.
His three alleged accomplices, they reject the accusations en bloc.
In Argenteuil, a wind of rebellion is blowing on the markets
The affair has poisoned the town hall for several years and has given rise to many comments in the city of Val-Fourré.
The indictment of Sidi El Haimer, considered as the essential relay of the municipality in this popular district, should be bitterly commented on.
"He is known, sympathetic, has rendered a lot of services, it's true, but he has made enemies," says a resident.
He and other chosen ones may have believed themselves invulnerable.
The tongues will loosen more and more because people now know that the police are doing their job.