in court, Bernard Laporte’s very close ties with Mohed Altrad’s “friendly club”

in court, Bernard Laporte's very close ties with Mohed Altrad's "friendly club"

Following the trial in Paris of several French rugby executives, accused of favoritism and conflicts of interest. The name of Montpellier Hérault Rugby was mentioned.

Open federation-league war, controversial postponement of matches … The Paris Criminal Court dissected on Monday several interventions by Bernard Laporte in favor of what he himself describes as “club friend“: Montpellier Hérault Rugby (MHR) of his co-defendant Mohed Altrad.

These links form the heart of the trial for favoritism of the strong man of the oval and president of the French federation (FFR), whose flow of submachine guns disconcerts the president of the court. “Sorry I did not understand», «could you repeat Monsieur Laporte? “, asks him several times Rose-Marie Hunault.

According to the prosecution, it would be in exchange for 180,000 euros paid in March 2017 by AIA, the holding company of Mr. Altrad’s group, that Bernard Laporte would have, on several occasions, intervened in favor of the businessman and his club, reigning champion of the Top 14. The court first looks at an episode dating from early 2017. On March 17, the National Rugby League (LNR) decides to postpone two matches of the Top 14 – MHR / Racing 92 and Castres/Stade Français – due to a strike by Stade Français players.

Mohed Altrad is notoriously opposed to this postponement and the FFR, under the impetus of Mr. Laporte, will embrace his fight by taking an extremely rare decision: his federal office will “reform(cancel) the decision of the League, with whom relations are then at loggerheads. Seizure, the administrative justice will end up judging illegal the intervention of the FFR. But for the Paris Criminal Court there remains a question: did Mr. Laporte make the interests of Mr. Altrad prevail who, before the investigators, claimed to be “agreed” with him so that the FFR exercises this right to “reform»?

At the hearing, the tricolor rugby boss formally denies it and the president raises the tone. “I have the impression that there is a small contradiction, not to say a big one“Launches Ms. Hunault, who also recalls that a letter from the FFR addressed to the League in this file had been submitted prior to the proofreading of Mr. Altrad.

An ally for us»

I didn’t know it at all“, assures Mr. Laporte, while indicating that he understands that the opinion of Mr. Altrad and the MHR is sought: “it’s a friendly club and it’s a brilliant person. VShe is a president hated by the League and therefore he is an ally for us“, he also lets go, referring to “the warwhich then opposed the two authorities. When the national financial prosecutor’s office insinuates that this intervention would be linked to the contract signed in 2017 between the two men and the payment of 180,000 euros, Mr. Laporte tries a parade. “I’m not related to Mr. Altrad, I’m related to AIA“, the holding company of his group.

Another file monopolizes the court. At the end of June 2017, the FFR appeal committee must rule on disciplinary sanctions imposed at first instance on the Montpellier club, in particular a fine of 70,000 euros, due to the deployment in its stadium of banners hostile to the League. Requested by Mr. Altrad, Mr. Laporte then calls the chairman of this commission, Jean-Daniel Simonet, after which the penalty will be reduced to 20,000 euros.

– “Was there any special urgencyto carry out this intervention?, asks the president.
– “I want to listen to the clubs, I answer them right away“, retorts Mr. Laporte, who affirms that he only wanted to know the decision and in no case to weigh on it. “I never asked Mr. Simonet for anything“, he hammers.

The president insists and recalls statements in police custody drawing a less clear-cut reality. Under pressure, Mr. Laporte then concedes having affirmed, during this phone call, that the clubs of Toulon and Montpellier were still heavily sanctioned by the League and that this situation had to end.

– “I said I want everyone to be on an equal footing», justifies Mr. Laporte.

– “And that’s not a way to intervene?“replies the president.

– “No way“, assures Mr. Laporte.

End of trial scheduled for September 22.

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