Tried for alleged acts of favoritism during the award of the public water contract in 2009 when he was mayor of Annonay (Ardèche), Elisabeth Borne’s former labor minister, Olivier Dussopt, was acquitted , Wednesday, January 17.

The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) had requested a ten-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 15,000 euros. Mr. Dussopt’s lawyer pleaded for acquittal in order to “restore his honor”.

Mr. Dussopt was suspected of having provided inside information regarding a call for tenders, for the benefit of the Urban and Rural Development Company (Saur), a water supply and treatment group. He was also suspected of having changed the evaluation criteria of this call for tenders, relating to a market worth 5.6 million euros, by reducing the importance given to the price to favor this company, holder of a public service delegation to manage the town’s water since 1994 but more expensive than competing companies.

Criticizing serious “failures” in the “duty of exemplarity” of elected officials, in the hope of “political gain”, the prosecution had not requested ineligibility against Mr. Dussopt, “in view of seniority facts “.

“Inside Information”

During a search of the ex-minister’s home as part of the preliminary investigation opened in May 2020 after the publication of a Mediapart article, investigators seized the minutes of a meeting which had taken place. held at the end of July 2009 between Olivier Dussopt and Olivier Brousse, former general director of Saur, also accused in this affair for complicity in favoritism.

The search also uncovered an email from the elected official to municipal services, requesting the modification of clauses in the specifications and the reduction of the importance given to price in the evaluation of candidates’ offers.

On the basis of these documents, the PNF concluded that the minister had “provided or attempted to provide privileged information” to Mr. Brousse in connection with the “future” water markets, while the municipality had decided to switch from a public service delegation to a management company.

At the end of his trial, in November 2023, Mr. Dussopt said: “I do not place myself in [the] perspective [of a conviction for favoritism]. A trial is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But it also allowed me to respond point by point to the accusations and questions,” he explained in an interview with Le Parisien.