Mohed Altrad is formal: in July 2017, his construction team did not want to pay more than 5.4 million euros for the jersey of the XV of France. After the summer, however he will agree to pay 6.8 million for the reasons that the Paris criminal court is struggling to understand, this Monday, during the trial also target the president of the FFR Bernard Laporte.
A winding affair. MHR boss Mohed Altrad is formal: in July 2017, his construction team did not want to pay more than 5.4 million euros for the jersey of the XV in France. After the summer, however he will agree to pay 6.8 million for the reasons that the Paris criminal court is struggling to understand, this Monday, during the trial also target the president of the FFR Bernard Laporte.
On several occasions, President Rose-Marie Hunault stumbled upon the explanations of the business manager, who is suspected of paying 180,000 euros to the boss of the French Rugby Federation in March 2017, in exchange for favorable arbitrations including this contract to sponsor.
“I lost you, Mr. Altrad …”, summed up the judge, who tried to identify the main stages of the partnership that since 2018 made Altrad the first jersey sponsor in the history of the Blues.
“There is an agreement”
In March 2017, the group signed a first contract with the FFR so that its name appears on the jersey of the national team for 9 games, in support of France’s bid for the 2023 World Cup and for 1.8 million euros. “This is a negotiation that is important between myself and Bernard Laporte”, said Mr. Altrad, slim figure and slightly raspy voice.
But in the summer of 2017, the federation was looking for a longer-term partner in the jersey. The first round of funding of 9.9 million euros cools the partners in the history of the Blues. But behind the scenes, according to a series of emails revealed in the hearing, Mr. Altrad and the federation negotiated at the end of July a deal of 5.4 million euros, more beneficial for the world number 1 group. scaffolding.
“At that time, there was an agreement,” testified Mr. Altrad at the helm, who assured that he does not want to put a penny more for the jersey of the French team. “France is humiliated. Nobody wants this jersey,” declared the CEO. But after the summer, it was a whole change. Mr. Altrad then admitted himself that the federation launched a call for tenders where his group was the only one to compete with a proposal of 6.8 million.
Laporte’s version is corrupted
In fact, he undermined the version given to the court by Bernard Laporte, according to which he himself vetoed an offer of 5.4 million. “I said no! It wasn’t enough,” the former Blues coach admitted last week.
This sudden request for formalism intrigued the president: was it related to the revelation to the press, in mid-August, of the contract that bound Mr. Laporte of the Altrad holding company and the payment of 180,000 euros? Mr. Altrad denied but nevertheless raised the need to legally “secure” future partnerships. “How is it that you reached an agreement in July and it was only in September that this kind of question arose”, wondered Ms. Hunault. “Perhaps, we are light on the punishment plan”, released the manager of the company, referring to the first association of the jersey involved in the 2023 World Cup.
The president has another question: what happened between July and September 2017 so that Mr. Altrad agreed to increase his offer? “This is the conviction that I built on the program of Mr. Laporte” of the head of the FFR, the leader tried. “But this program already existed in July!”, intervened the president, remembering that Mr. Laporte was elected president of the FFR in December 2016. Pushed to the ropes, Mr. Altrad then evoked a “patriotic commitment” and his desire to do “something” for France, where this septuagenarian, was born in a rape in the Syrian desert, migrated. At the risk of contradicting himself, the billionaire revealed, however, that he “almost never responded” to the call for tenders.
Finally, the court questioned Mr. Altrad’s personal involvement in all these negotiations: was it because of the ties that united him to Mr. Laporte? “My relationship (with him, editor’s note) was above all professional,” relativizes Mr. Altrad, who rejected the thesis of the prosecution that he allegedly bribed the president of FFR. “If it’s a novel, nobody will buy it,” he said. The arraignment is expected on Tuesday.