Mayor displays his predecessor’s conviction in Agerria case on city billboards

Mayor displays his predecessor’s conviction in Agerria case on city billboards
Mayor displays his predecessor’s conviction in Agerria case on city billboards

The highly political affair of the management of the Agerria estate in Mauléon has seen a new notorious episode in recent days. The former mayor of the Souletin city, Michel Etchebest, saw his first instance conviction confirmed on appeal. This was made known by his successor at the head of the municipal council, Louis Labadot.

Michel Etchebest was accused of having personally drafted the minutes of the board of directors of the semi-public company Domaine Agerria at the beginning of July 2019. The hotel was still managed by this SEM, in which the municipality was the majority shareholder and whose mayor was president (1). The maneuver was aimed at obtaining a loan of 450,000 euros from Crédit Agricole.

“I was the one who wrote it,” Michel Etchebest admitted during the first instance hearing in June 2023. “I spent six months discussing the loan conditions with Crédit Agricole. I received the bank’s offer, which was sent to the notary on July 2. He asked me for a report from the board of directors for validation on July 4, which was very short.”

The former mayor had been sentenced to four months in prison, suspended, a fine of 5,000 euros, of which 2,500 euros were suspended, and a ban on managing a company for one year. These sanctions were confirmed on appeal on June 27, 2024, as the man who succeeded him at city hall in 2020 mischievously points out.

The text appears in the news on the city’s website.

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The mayor of Mauléon, Louis Labadot, had the decision posted on the town’s website and on the electronic notice board in front of the town hall. It states that “the former mayor of Mauléon is definitively convicted by the appeal court of the Pau criminal court for forgery and use of forgery”. The short paragraph is preceded by the words “under the supervision of the town’s lawyer” and the definitive nature of the sanction is emphasized.

Michel Etchebest, mayor from 2008 to 2020, naturally took note of the notice to the population. He did not wish to comment on the somewhat baroque form of this public display but he asked his lawyer to respond on the substance. “The comments made by Mr. Louis Labadot following the decision made on June 27 do not correspond to the reality of this case,” said Me Cécile Félix, who first recalled that the suspicions of embezzlement of funds have been abandoned.

“With regard to the offence of forgery and use of forged documents, although the decision of the Court of Appeal confirmed the criminal sanction, it should be noted that the claims made for 115,000 euros by the liquidator of SEM Agerria were purely and simply rejected, which Mr Labadot deliberately fails to specify in all of his press releases.”

“Finally,” the council added, “Mr. Labadot seems to forget that the decision taken cannot be considered final due to failure to exhaust the appeal procedures.” Michel Etchebest is considering appealing to the Court of Cassation. If he were to win his case, the case would be sent back to its original criminal court point.

(1) In 2021 it passed into the hands of the Basque Country community of communes



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