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French trial prosecutors want Laporte and Altrad to serve jail time

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

The prosecution team in the high-profile French rugby trial has outlined at the Paris Criminal Court the punishments it wants to be handed down, with the heaviest sentences requested for Bernard Laporte, the French rugby president, and Mohed Altrad, the Montpellier owner who sponsors the France national team and the All Blacks.


The five defendants at the corruption trial face a series of allegations relating to their governance of the sport, with Laporte – according to reports – accused of ‘passive corruption’, ‘passive influence peddling’, ‘illegal taking of interests’, ‘breach of trust’ and ‘concealment of abuse of corporate assets’.

Altrad, meanwhile, is accused of ‘influence peddling’, ‘active corruption’ and ‘abuse of corporate assets’, Serge Simon of ‘illegal taking of interests’, Claude Atcher of ‘concealment of breach of trust’, ‘concealed work’ and ‘abuse of social good’, and Benoit Rover of ‘concealment of breach of trust’.

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Addressing court president Rose-Marie Hunault in the hope that the five defendants will eventually be found guilty, prosecutors Celine Guillet and Francois-Xavier Dulin outlined their case and set down the punishments they are looking for from the trial.

A report stated: “At the end of its reasoning, the prosecution requested three years in prison for Bernard Laporte, two of which would be suspended, a fine of €50,000 and a ban on exercising a function in rugby for two years.

“For Mohed Altrad, three years of imprisonment were requested, two of which would be suspended, a fine of €200,000, a ban on managing a commercial company for two years and a ban on exercising a function in rugby for two years. For Claude Atcher, a two-year prison sentence, one of which was suspended, a fine of €50,000 euros and a three-year ban on managing any commercial company were requested.


“For Serge Simon, a one-year prison sentence was requested, including six months suspended, a €10,000 fine as well as a ban on having a function in rugby for two years. For Benoit Rover, a year’s imprisonment including six months suspended, as well as a three-year ban on managing a company was requested.”

The public prosecutor said. “You will have to pronounce, Madam President, a sentence for each of them. This sentence must be pronounced in proportion to the offences committed. These people have damaged the probity that surrounds French rugby.

“Nothing is excluded that in a similar situation, the defendants will still act in the same way. Bernard Laporte put his energy at the service of the FFR and Mr Altrad, violating the cardinal principle of the independence of a disciplinary committee.”

Laporte’s lawyer, Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, declared: “Despite my 57 years in the profession, I can still be surprised by an indictment. But anything that is excessive is insignificant. From our side, we will ask for release. For thirty years, Bernard Laporte has been winning. He is therefore a target and in the eyes of all, he is suspect. Mr Altrad? He is suspect because he is a billionaire and successful in business.”



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