On the front line with the pension reform, the Minister of Labour, Olivier Dussopt, announced on Friday that the National Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF) had upheld the offense of "favouritism" in the case of two works of art received in gift in 2017. In a briefing note addressed to his lawyer, "the prosecution considers that there is only one grievance, in this case a formal offense of favoritism in a 2009 public contract", declared Olivier Dussopt, adding that “No corruption” is reproached to him.
A preliminary investigation for illegal taking of interest had been opened against Olivier Dussopt, concerning two lithographs by the painter Gérard Garouste which had been offered to him by a company in 2017, when he was deputy and mayor of Annonay.
The investigation was to verify possible facts of “corruption” and “illegal taking of interest”.
In his statement to AFP this Friday evening, the Minister of Labor indicates that the PNF “did its job and carried out an investigation and multiple investigations which brought out five possible grievances”.
“My oral and written expressions have largely convinced the Public Prosecutor's Office”, which “considers that four out of five of these grievances have no substance and have closed them without further action”.
“No corruption is therefore reproached to me”, adds the minister.
He had said to "ignore the value" of the paintings
These two lithographs had been offered by a local manager of Saur, a French water treatment group, when a contract was about to be concluded between the town of Annonay (Ardèche) and this company.
The contract, negotiated since 2016, was formally signed six months later, on June 1, 2017. Olivier Dussopt then explained that he had not declared these lithographs to the ethics officer of the National Assembly - as is required for any gift more than 150 euros - because he "did not know the value" of the two paintings.
He then returned them.
The statement comes after the publication of an article by Mediapart, this Friday evening, indicating that the minister “is threatened with a trial”.
The investigation site thus reveals that Olivier Dussopt recently received a "damning" investigation report from the PNF and that this news did not fail to cause "the greatest embarrassment at the Élysée and at Matignon".
According to information from Mediapart, the Anti-Corruption Office (OCLCIFF) of the judicial police notably got hold of exchanges between the minister and the Saur company which would leave “little doubt about the existence of an arrangement around a public contract dated 2009-2010”.