The businessman was heard this Monday by the Paris Criminal Court about the contracts between his group and the FFR about the jersey of the Blues.
Mohed Altrad is formal: in July 2017, his construction group did not want to pay more than 5.4 million euros for the jersey of the XV of France. After the summer, however, he will agree to pay 6.8 million for reasons that the Paris Criminal Court struggled to understand on Monday. On several occasions, President Rose-Marie Hunault stumbles on the explanations of the business manager, suspected of having paid 180,000 euros to the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) Bernard Laporte in March 2017, in exchange for favorable arbitrations including this sponsorship contract.
"You have lost me, Mr. Altrad...“, summarizes the magistrate, who tries to identify the main stages of the partnership which since 2018 has made Altrad the first jersey sponsor in the history of the Blues. In March 2017, the group signed a first contract with the FFR to have its name appear on the national team's jersey for 9 matches, in support of the French candidacy for the 2023 World Cup and for 1.8 million euros. .
"It was a negotiation essentially between myself and Bernard Laportesays Mr. Altrad, slender figure and slightly quavering voice. But in the summer of 2017, the federation is looking for a longer-term jersey partner.
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“There was an agreement”
A first round of funding at 9.9 million euros cools the historical partners of the Blues. But behind the scenes, according to a series of emails revealed to the hearing, Mr. Altrad and the federation come to an agreement at the end of July on a deal of 5.4 million euros, much more advantageous for the world number 1 group. scaffolding.
"At that time there was an agreement“Confirms Mr. Altrad at the helm, who assures that he did not want to put a penny more for the jersey of the France team. "France was downgraded. No one wanted this jersey“, proclaims the CEO. Yet after the summer, it's a total turnaround. Mr. Altrad then claims himself that the federation launches a call for tenders in which his group will be the only one to compete with a proposal at 6.8 million.
Incidentally, he undermines the version delivered in court by Bernard Laporte, according to which it was he himself who had vetoed an offer of 5.4 million. "I'm the one saying no! It wasn't enough“, had claimed the former coach of the Blues the previous week. This sudden request for formalism intrigues the president: is it linked to the revelation in the press, in mid-August, of the contract binding Mr. Laporte to the Altrad holding company and the payment of 180,000 euros?
Mr. Altrad denies this but nevertheless puts forward a need to “to secure» legally the future partnership. "How is it that you had come to an agreement in July and it is only in September that this type of question arises“, is surprised Ms. Hunault.
“Light on the penal level”
"Probably, we were light on the penal plan“says the business manager, referring to the first jersey partnership linked to the 2023 World Cup. The president has another question: what happened between July and September 2017 for Mr. Altrad to agree to substantially increase his offer? ?
- "It is the conviction that I then built on the program of Mr. Laporte“at the head of the FFR, tries the leader.
- "But this program already existed in July!», Intervenes the president, recalling that Mr. Laporte had been elected president of the FFR in December 2016.
Pushed into the ropes, Mr. Altrad then evokes a “patriotic commitment» and his wish to do «Somethingfor France, where this septuagenarian, born of a rape in the Syrian desert, emigrated. At the risk of contradicting himself, the billionaire reveals, however, that he had "almost didn't answerto the call for tenders.
Finally, the court questions the personal involvement of Mr. Altrad in all of these negotiations: could this be due to the ties that unite him to Mr. Laporte? "my relationship (with him, Editor's note) was above all professional“, relativizes Mr. Altrad, who rejects in block the thesis of the accusation according to which he would have bribed the president of the FFR. "If it was in a novel, no one would buy it“, he stings. The indictment is expected on Tuesday.
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