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The association L’Ere du peuple, provider of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s presidential campaign in 2017, was indicted in particular for “aggravated fraud” on February 3 in the investigation into the campaign accounts of the candidate LFI.
Less than three weeks before the first round of the presidential election (April 10), the association L’Ere du peuple, provider of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s presidential campaign in 2017, sees its indictment aggravated in the investigation. on the campaign accounts of the candidate of La France insoumise (LFI), revealed, Wednesday March 23, the online media Mediapart.
In this case, the investigating judges have been looking since 2018 at the use of public funds by the team of the candidate LFI for his campaign for the previous presidential election.
The Era of the People, a non-profit association founded in 2015 by followers of Jean-Luc Mélenchon in order to ensure in particular the logistics of its meetings, had invoiced 440,027 euros to the candidate for rental of rooms or computer equipment. and the intellectual services of its four employees. Among the latter, there are the deputies Bastien Lachaud, already indicted, and Mathilde Panot.
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The National Commission for Campaign Accounts (CNCCFP) had noted a difference of 152,688 euros between the salaries paid to deputies and the amounts invoiced for their services to the agent. According to Mediapart, this allowed the association to generate a margin of 66% and 59% for the two deputies.
On March 29, 2021, the investigating judges had chosen to grant the association the more favorable status of assisted witness for the main offenses of the investigation relating to suspicions of fraud and overbilling, not indicting the association only for “illegal loan of labour”.
“The case gives birth to a mouse,” rejoiced Manuel Bompard, the former director of this campaign, with AFP.
But according to a judicial source contacted on Wednesday and confirming information from Mediapart, the judges on February 3 aggravated the proceedings after an interrogation, pronouncing the indictment of the association for “fraud and attempted aggravated fraud ” and “forgery and use of forgery”.
Since the spring of 2021, new hearings have revealed that missions invoiced by L’Ère du peuple were actually carried out by other service providers, according to Mediapart. Bernard Pignerol’s association would then have issued false invoices to justify the costs.
Contacted by AFP, neither Bernard Pinerol, president of L’Ere du peuple, nor Mand Mathieu Croizet, his lawyer, were not available to react. With Mediapart, the State Councilor Pignerol considered that these new indictments are “proof of a prosecution instruction”.
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They come “only to correct a legal inconsistency or even a procedural fault. It was absurd to indict an employee for ‘fraud’ and ‘false’ without the association which hired him being worried for the same charges “, developed Bernard Pinerol.
On September 22, in fact, six months after the first questioning of L’Ere du peuple, the LFI deputy Bastien Lachaud, who was then employed as treasurer of the association, had been indicted mainly for ” illicit loan of labour, forgery, fraud and attempted fraud”.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon disputes any violation
Bastien Lachaud, like the three other employees, including Mathilde Panot, should have been paid by the candidate’s campaign or the party and not by the service provider, believes the investigating judge in charge of the case. Mathilde Panot and Bastien Lachaud, who later became deputies, were at the same time members of the campaign team.
The investigating judges also indicted on April 29 Marie-Pierre Oprandi, financial agent of the candidate Mélenchon, for “illegal loan of labor” and “use of forgery”.
Presidential candidate 2022, Jean-Luc Mélenchon disputes any infringement, in this investigation and in the second judicial investigation, still in progress, concerning the employment of LFI’s parliamentary assistants in the European Parliament. After the revelation of the indictment of deputy Lachaud, he denounced a “manipulation” to “rotten (his) campaign”.
According to the online investigation site, investigators are also interested in invoices issued by other structures run by relatives of LFI, whose overcharged total would approach one million euros.
Among them is the consulting firm Mediascop, headed by Sophia Chikirou, close to the party leader and his communications director during the 2017 campaign. investigations.
This new procedural step could suggest other forthcoming hearings of LFI officials.