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French border police officer to stand trial for selling files to Moroccan secret service

A French border policeman will stand trial for transferring hundreds of highly confidential documents on wanted people to Moroccan secret services in exchange for luxurious holidays abroad, judicial sources told AFP.

French border police officer to stand trial for selling files to Moroccan secret service
The officer was based at Orly airport, south of Paris. Photo: AFP

The 62-year-old was head of the border police's information unit at Orly airport south of Paris. He was in charge of tracking the movement of people on the wanted list, including those suspected of radicalisation.

Now retired, the policeman is suspected of giving between 100 and 200 highly sensitive records to the Moroccan secret services – earning him cash payments and lavish free holidays in Morocco and also Angola.

The investigation brought to light a payment of €17,000 to the bank account of the policeman and his wife, who were in debt at the time.

He will stand trial for corruption at Creteil court to the southeast of Paris, for events that took place between October 2014 and May 2017.

“At the time, my client was convinced he was acting in the superior interest of France,” his lawyer Blandine Russo told AFP. 

“He was asked to collaborate with Morocco. For him, it was a way of monitoring (wanted people) and avoiding new terrorist attacks,” Russo said, adding that her client was psychologically troubled at the time.

A Franco-Moroccan man, accused of being the middleman with the Moroccan secret services, is also standing trial for corruption.

As head of an airport security company, the 57-year-old is believed to have had a central role in the set up.

He is suspected of transferring the confidential documents, many of which were found at his home and in his office.

The Franco-Moroccan is also accused of paying for the holidays abroad of the policeman and his family.

Contacted by AFP, his lawyer did not wish to comment.

The border policeman's wife will also stand trial for receiving goods resulting from corruption – judicial authorities having decided that she must have known the reasons for the holidays.

She is also accused of stealing medicine – given to the middleman – from the hospital where she worked as a nursing assistant.

Investigators have issued an arrest warrant for the Moroccan agent, but so far he is nowhere to be found. He is wanted on charges of corruption.

“It is extremely rare for a case involving states secrets to end up in court, particularly as a result of an anonymous tip off,” the Creteil court said.

The trial should be held in 2021, a judicial source told AFP. 

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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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