The president of the organizing committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Cojop) in Paris, Tony Estanguet, is the subject of a recently opened investigation by the national financial prosecutor’s office regarding the conditions of his remuneration, a source close to the matter confirmed to AFP on Tuesday. The investigation has been entrusted to the Paris judicial police as of last week, according to the source.
When contacted by AFP, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office stated that they did not wish to “communicate at this stage on the existence of a possible preliminary investigation relating to the remuneration of Tony Estanguet.” Tony Estanguet had been receiving an annual gross remuneration of 270,000 euros until 2020, according to figures provided by Cojop in 2018.
This remuneration was then subject to a potential increase of up to 20%, based on certain performance criteria, as indicated by Cojop at the time. However, as Cojop is an association of the 1901 law type, the remuneration of its leaders is capped by law at significantly lower levels.
According to a recent article in Le Canard Enchaîné, the former athlete had created a company that billed “non-commercial services” to Cojop, which he heads. This raised questions about the control of “the reality and quality of the services” provided by Estanguet’s company, continued the newspaper in October.
“The framework for the remuneration of the organizing committee’s president is very strictly regulated,” Cojop responded to AFP on Tuesday, expressing its “astonishment” at the announcement of the opening of the investigation. The remuneration of Tony Estanguet “was decided and validated by the first Board of Directors of the organizing committee on March 2, 2018, which ruled in his absence, sovereignly and independently,” the Cojop specifies.
The remuneration amount was decided on the proposal of a “remuneration committee” composed of “independent experts responsible for ensuring the relevance of our remuneration policy,” adds Cojop. “The amount of the invoices related to this remuneration is subject to an annual audit” by an “independent internal audit unit of the organizing committee’s executive branch and a review by the Remuneration Committee,” the organization further states, specifying that this “approach does not correspond to any legal obligation but reflects a desire for transparency.”
At the beginning of 2021, two reports from the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) on the organization of the Olympics (July 26th-August 11th) noted “risks of integrity breaches” and “conflicts of interest.” In one of these reports, the AFA mentioned the case of Tony Estanguet’s company, highlighting an “atypical arrangement within the framework of a 1901 law association,” which “is not without difficulties,” as reported by Le Canard Enchaîné.
The organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris is already the subject of three other separate financial investigations, particularly for suspicions of favoritism and misappropriation of public funds in the awarding of contracts.