trial of EDF and its ex-CEO Henri Proglio from Tuesday May 21 in Paris

trial of EDF and its ex-CEO Henri Proglio from Tuesday May 21 in Paris
trial of EDF and its ex-CEO Henri Proglio from Tuesday May 21 in Paris

The electricity giant and its former CEO at the helm. During a trial which is due to last two weeks, from Tuesday May 21, will appear the one who was boss of EDF between 2009 and 2014, Henri Proglio, the public company represented by one of its executives, the former secretary General Alain Tchernonog, as well as eleven consultants.

The case began with a report in 2016 from the Court of Auditors which led to the opening of a preliminary investigation by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF).

22 million euros in disputed contracts

Searches were carried out in 2017 and 2018, at the EDF headquarters in the heart of Paris and in the La Défense tower, as well as in consultant premises.

In total, 44 disputed contracts were identified for a total of around 22 million euros, all concluded without competitive bidding and initialed either by Henri Proglio, by the general secretary or by other directors.

Communicators, former business leaders, politicians, magistrates, lawyers and journalists… have signed up for missions of ” communication advice “, ” strategic advice “, ” risk management “, “information” Or “lobbying”associated with amounts ranging from 40,000 to four million euros over several years.

A “special procedure”

For the prosecution, these contracts could not be concluded over the counter: none of the exemptions provided for by the regulations could apply to these markets.

A 2010 note, called “Tchernonog” after the secretary general, established a “special procedure” relaxing “only on the references and reputation of the consultants and was institutionalized in disregard of the principles of equal treatment, transparency of procedures and freedom of access to public procurement which were imposed on EDF”according to a summary note of the investigations dated 2022.

Henri Proglio, aged 74 and who faces two years of imprisonment and a fine of 200,000 euros (or double the proceeds of the offense) for favoritism, is “innocent of the facts with which he is accused”declared his lawyers Jean-Pierre Mignard and Pierre-Emmanuel Blard.

“Confidential” missions

“We are going to request acquittal, firstly because a large part of the facts are prescribed and because, for there to be favoritism, there must be a hidden will. However, everything was of rare publicity, the desire to conceal is absolutely absent from this file”they continued, also emphasizing “lack of personal enrichment”.

At the end of its investigation, the PNF decided not to pursue consultants who had benefited from contracts below the threshold of “formalized procedure”i.e. below around 400,000 euros at the time.

Eleven natural or legal persons were cited in court for concealment of favoritism: during the investigation, all denied having committed an offense.

During the investigation, some consultants also claimed their lack of knowledge of public procurement rules. Others claimed that a call for tenders was not possible because the missions in question were “confidential” or required particularly rare skills.

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