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CRIME

Paris pickpocket victims can now file a complaint in Metro stations

It's a long-standing problem that affects tourists and locals alike - the gangs of pickpockets that target travellers on the Paris Metro.

Paris pickpocket victims can now file a complaint in Metro stations
Pickpocketing is a major problem on the Paris Metro. Photo: AFP

But now police, prosecutors and the city's transport operator RATP have come to an agreement allowing victims to file a complaint within the station, without having to go to a police station.

The new facility comes after a trial period in 49 Metro stations run over the last year. Now all of the Metro stations within Paris and stations on the RER A and B lines within the city have the facility to file complaints directly. Transport bosses say they hope to expand it out to the city's suburbs in the future.

They hope it will lead to increased reporting, as for tourists the process of finding the nearest police station and making the report can be confusing and off-putting.

A report can be made in the Metro station of a theft without violence where the loss is €1,000 or less.

Pickpocketing is a major problem on the Paris transport network, and one that is growing – the first nine months of 2019 saw a 32 percent increase against the same period in 2018.

READ ALSO 'They have all sorts of techniques' – How pickpocketing has surged on the Paris Metro

Many of the pickpockets are part of organised gangs, and in 2019 a 20-strong gang of Romanians were jailed for a total of 113 years. The gang leaders were charged with human trafficking as well as money laundering and criminal enterprise as they had been forcing children to go onto the transport network and steal.

During the 18-month trial period of the new scheme, more than 300 complaints were received at the 49 participating stations and victims included 51 different nationalities. The most number of complaints were received at Châtelet, Saint-Michel and Opéra stations.

READ ALSO 14 simple ways to avoid the Paris pickpockets and petty thieves

 

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CRIME

Top French central banker in corruption probe

French prosecutors said Friday that they had opened a corruption investigation into top central banker Sylvie Goulard, who simultaneously stepped down from the Bank of France.

Top French central banker in corruption probe

The probe covers suspicions of accepting bribes, influence peddling, illegal conflicts of interest and breach of trust, the national financial prosecutor’s office said, confirming a report from daily Liberation.

Graft-fighting group Anticor triggered the probe by filing a criminal report in June, with the investigation launched in September.

In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard – a former MEP and briefly defence minister under President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 – would be leaving her post as one of the institution’s deputy governors on December 5.

Returning to the foreign ministry?

She wished to “return to the foreign ministry” where she started her civil service career, the bank said.

A source close to Goulard told AFP that her departure had “nothing to do with the investigation”.

“Neither Sylvie Goulard nor her lawyer were informed that the investigation had been reopened,” the source said.

A previous probe in 2019 was closed the following year after no crime was found, case files seen by AFP showed.

Anticor questioned in its complaint the work Goulard performed for the California-based Berggruen Institute think-tank.

She has acknowledged accepting 10,000 euros ($10,530 at current rates) per month working as a “special adviser” to the Council for the Future of Europe, an offshoot of Berggruen, between 2013 and 2016.

Goulard’s explanation

Goulard, who was also an MEP at the time, said her work had “no relation of any kind with the business activities” of the group’s founder, German-American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

She said her role included “reflection, moderating groups, organizing meetings”.

Her lawyer declined to respond Friday when contacted by AFP.

The Berggruen Institute denied in 2019 that Goulard had been given a fake job, highlighting that she organised meetings in Brussels, Paris and Madrid.

Goulard has also been charged in a probe into suspected fake jobs among assistants to MEPs from the Democratic Movement, a small centrist party that supports Macron.

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