Fictitious parliamentary assistants of Modem: François Bayrou acquitted on benefit of the doubt

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François Bayrou, 72, was acquitted on Monday “*on the benefit of the doubt*” by the criminal court of Paris. The former minister was accused, along with others, in a case of alleged fictitious jobs for assistants of his party, the MoDem (formerly UDF), at the European Parliament, between 2005 and 2017. He faced 10 years in prison, a fine of 1 million euros, and a 10-year ban from running for office for complicity in embezzlement of public funds.

His defense argued for acquittal, and it convinced the court. Mr. Bayrou’s indictment had led him to resign from his post as Minister of Justice shortly after his appointment in 2017. The UDF was convicted as a legal entity and fined 150,000 euros, 100,000 of which is firm, and its successor, the MoDem, was fined 350,000 euros, 300,000 of which is firm.

This amounts to a total of 400,000 euros firm for the centrist party of which Mr. Bayrou is the undisputed leader, but the court found no evidence of his involvement in the fraud. “*For seven years, we were banned from political responsibilities*,” commented Mr. Bayrou, describing the case as a “*human waste*”. “*I have never committed the acts on which the accusation was based, never (…) there has never been a system or personal enrichment*,” he added.

The convicted defendants and the prosecution have ten days to contest this judgment. In case any of the parties appeal, the public ministry could request that all of them, including those acquitted, be retried.

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