Bogus jobs: One year in prison against ex-minister Michel Mercier
“Intolerable” facts committed by a politician who “has given in to comfort and convenience”: four years in prison, including one fixed, were demanded on Wednesday against former justice minister Michel Mercier, who is suspected of giving his wife and wife fictitious parliamentary posts grant daughter.
The public prosecutor’s office also demanded that Michel Mercier, who is accused of “embezzlement of public funds” and “illegal interests”, be given a ten-year ban, accompanied by a five-year ban from office and a fine of 50,000 euros.
His wife Joëlle and his daughter Delphine, who appeared with him before the Paris Criminal Court on charges of “veiling”, were sentenced to two years’ probation and 18 months’ probation respectively.
The 75-year-old former Seal Guardian, who for four days denied any desire to do wrong, could therefore not be convicted by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF). In a long and stern indictment, prosecutors on Wednesday called for sanctions for “acts all the more intolerable for being committed by a man who has been invested in politics for 40 years.”
The judge also condemned “the contradictions and total artistic vagueness” in Michel Mercier’s statements and rebuked the attitude at the helm of this close friend of François Bayrou, “who opts for evasive maneuvers and counter-reactions. To run”.
Mr Mercier is condemned “for yielding to relief, to consolation”, again the prosecution, who noted the considerable sums at stake: almost 450,000 euros of public money in total, according to the count of the PNF, taking into account the requests of the General Council of the Rhône, which estimates the cost of Joëlle Mercier at 96,000 euros at the expense of the department.
– “Particularly serious” –
Willingly smart, Michel Mercier presented himself at the bar as a “senator from the countryside” who always kept the door open and therefore needed the support of his family, first and foremost his wife, to carry out his political offices.
The indictments against the former minister of Nicolas Sarkozy (2010-2012) date from 2005 to 2014, a time when parliamentary activities for families were not yet banned. They have been since the summer of 2017 and the resounding Fillon affair looms over this process.
During this period, when he said family jobs were “common”, Michel Mercier employed his wife as a parliamentary assistant when he was a senator between 2005 and 2013, although in fact she had worked with him since 1999 – facts that are now mandatory.
But nobody in the Rhône seemed to know that Joëlle Mercier was her husband’s parliamentary assistant.
Her daughter Delphine was her Parliamentary Assistant from August 2012 to April 2014 while she was living in London. She does a “guard job” on cultural affairs for her father, she explained, but could not provide any traces of the work done for her father.
Joëlle Mercier is also being prosecuted for organizing “events” ranging from cooking or fencing lessons to cultural visits, at the expense of the General Council of the Rhône, of which her husband was then president, from which several benefited. Hundreds of people, mostly wives of Rhone celebrities.
Prosecutors considered that “due to her professional experience, she could not ignore the fact that she was committing particularly serious offences”.
The investigation opened in August 2017 after an article in Le Canard enchaîné, prompting the 75-year-old former Keeper of the Seals to give up the seat on the Constitutional Council that had been promised to him at the time. “I think (…) that I can’t sit there with the necessary composure,” he said.
The former minister and senator remains involved in another bogus job file. Since 2019, he has been indicted along with other centrist leaders, including François Bayrou, in the case of assistants to MoDem MPs.
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