Almost ten years after the death of an executive of the Competition Authority, a trial for complicity in moral harassment was ordered on Thursday against his former boss, the senior civil servant and former vice-president of the Council of State Bruno Lasserre. According to a source close to the case to AFP, a Paris investigating judge also ordered the dismissal of the former head of the Authority's legal department, Fabien Zivy, who will appear in court for moral harassment.
Mr. Lasserre, 69, headed the Autorité de la concurrence between 2004 and 2016 and the Conseil d'Etat between 2018 and 2022. He is currently in charge of the Estates General of Information, and is a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour and a Commander of the National Order of Merit. On 27 March 2014, an official of the Autorité, Alain Mouzon, 46, was found dead in his apartment. Having become the de facto spokesperson for the Autorité's legal department, denouncing the many cases of burnout that occur there, he himself had multiplied sick leave and warning signs.
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Above him is Fabien Zivy, who was appointed head of the Authority's legal department in 2011 and whose management had been described as "toxic and disqualifying", in particular towards Mr Mouzon, according to an audit issued on 15 April 2013. In her order signed on Thursday, seen by AFP, the investigating judge referred to "Bruno Lasserre's manifest and lasting will" to make possible "the moral harassment of which Fabien Zivy is accused".
The magistrate took as proof several elements including "the appointment and maintenance of Fabien Zivy in his functions and in the premises" for several years, "the refusal of any adjustment of the workload, the voluntary exclusion of Alain Mouzon from the files or moments of conviviality". It notes that these decisions were taken by Mr. Lasserre "despite the deteriorating knowledge of the situation" "within the legal department" and despite "Fabien Zivy's managerial methods regularly denounced" internally.
In a letter addressed to the staff of the Council of State when the prosecution was announced in 2019, the senior official denied any involvement.
"Executioner" of the "Executioner"
He will also contest before the judges any "complicity in management methods that I have never asked for or endorsed and that I have, when they were brought to my attention, firmly condemned". One of his lawyers, Bernard Grelon, declined to comment immediately.
During the investigation, Mr. Zivy denied any harassment but had evoked a "history of explosion, of collective burn-out", mainly linked to an overload of work, with "collective, multi-causal suffering". Expressing "remorse," Mr. Zivy presented himself as a "transmission belt" and a "shock absorber" for Mr. Lasserre, who had become a "scapegoat" for his former boss, who was presented as the "initiator" of the harassment, first "in oppression, manipulation and now in denial."
"Mr. Zivy was the executioner of his staff, but he himself had his executioner, who was Mr. Lasserre," summarized an employee of the Autorité. The referral to court "is anything but a surprise. The investigating judge had made no secret of her reading of the file. We will see what the trial court thinks," commented Sophie Sarre, one of Fabien Zivy's lawyers.
The State had been found guilty of gross negligence
Already, in April 2015, two decrees published by the Ministers of Economy and Finance had concluded that Mr. Mouzon's death was "attributable to the service" and constituted "an occupational disease", according to Marianne, who had revealed the affair. "Mr. Mouzon was exposed to psychological harassment that led to burnout and the development of severe anxiety disorders that led to his death," the Paris Administrative Court confirmed on March 17, 2016.
The State was found guilty of gross negligence and ordered to pay €60,000 to the officer's mother. The latter had filed a complaint at the end of 2015 against Mr. Vizy and Mr. Lasserre, leading to the opening of the judicial investigation. They were indicted in 2018 and 2019 respectively. "I'm satisfied. A subordinate (Mr. Zivy) who decided not to play the fuse, that's interesting. My client has been waiting for this for a long time," said Bertrand Couderc, lawyer for the officer's mother.