Suspicion of nepotism in Grenoble: Piolle assumes the decision of his town hall

Suspicion of nepotism in Grenoble: Piolle assumes the decision of his town hall

‘I’m happy with what has been done’: Grenoble’s EELV mayor Éric Piolle assumed the attribution of an event to a club in 2015 and 2016 in court on Monday, a decision linked to suspicion associated with preferential treatment.

“Local people are doing their job without having to ask me to alert me, but I feel comfortable with what has been done,” said the 49-year-old councilman, who is wearing his usual white shirt under a dark suit , before the Valence Criminal Court, where the case was disoriented.

Mr Piolle is being prosecuted for allegedly “granting unfair advantages” to “Fusées”, an association that coordinated the first editions of the Fête des Tuiles in 2015 and 2016 on one of the main arteries of the Isère prefecture. Just over 120,000 euros were billed per issue.

Also involved are four former territorial agents of the city – including former director general of services François Langlois – as well as two representatives of “Fusees” suspected of being close to the urban environmental majority.

Speaking to the judges, Mr. Piolle, Mayor of Grenoble since 2014, approved the arbitration of his majority and stated that he was never made aware of a possible difficulty.

However, in 2016, his city hall’s public procurement department had denied him the visa for the contract. A reserve that, according to the mayor, “had not arrived by (his) office” at the time.

For his part, Thierry Aldeguer, lawyer for the municipal opposition led by former mayor Alain Carignon – who has filed a civil lawsuit – pointed out before AFP the mayor’s “return of the elevator” to this association, which he says “fought” towards his re-election.

Director Pascal Auclair vehemently rejects an accusation of fraudulent collusion. This “Rockets” figure assured the bar that he was not friends with the mayor and had simply signed a platform in his favor “in (s)his own name” ahead of the 2014 local elections.

For her part, the president of the Agnès Billat collective was amazed: “We responded to the call for projects, we did the work, I don’t understand how we got there”.

– Party or show? –

Show or festive event? Monday’s debates largely focused on this issue, because if an artistic work should not be put out to tender, then the organization of a cultural event shouldn’t.

In 2015 and 2016, the Fête des Tuiles brought several artists together on a long vein to commemorate a rebellion by the residents of Grenoble against the royal troops on June 7, 1788.

For the State Chamber of Accounts (KRK), whose report in 2018 triggered an investigation and then in 2021 the placement of Mr. Piolle in police custody, the finding is clear.

Its June 2018 report stated that the benefits of “Rockets” “relate to the design and production of the party and not a +show+ that the club would have previously created. This mission (…) could have been carried out by another company”. Therefore, she believes, “the service cannot justify the procedure chosen”.

The town hall, on the other hand, assures that the specific case involved a procedure that is specific to an artistic performance that is not of a competitive nature.

In addition, the former city events director and initiator of the contract, Erwan Lecœur, asserted in court that the municipality already had facilities capable of organizing these types of events.

“I was only looking for artists, not organisers,” he pleaded, while Mr Piolle tried to make room in front of the press and provoked a “technical debate”.

The penal code punishes the offense of unjustified granting of advantages with a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros as well as a ban of up to 5 years.

The trial is scheduled to end on Tuesday evening.


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