A week after the acquittal at first instance of Olivier Dussopt, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) announced on Wednesday January 24 that it was appealing this decision. On January 17, the Paris Criminal Court rejected all charges against the former Minister of Labor, suspected of favoritism in the award of the public water contract in 2009 when he was mayor of Annonay (Ardèche).

The financial public prosecutor, Jean-François Bohnert, “considers that this decision raises questions of law with regard to the offense of favoritism, which deserve to be submitted to the examination of the court of appeal,” said the PNF in a press release. Contacted by Agence France-Presse, Mr. Dussopt affirmed that he “will once again present [his] full explanations to the Court of Appeal to convince her in turn and so that her and [his] release innocence are confirmed.” According to the former minister, the criminal court pronounced at first instance a “decision based on precise and detailed reasoning. He judged that all these acts, which concern an old public procurement procedure from 2009, are in accordance with the law.

Disembarked from the government

In its decision of January 17, the criminal court found that the former minister of labor, who left the government at the beginning of January, had not provided “any privileged information” to the Urban and Rural Development Company (SAUR), a water supply and treatment group, during a call for tenders in its municipality. During the trial in November, the PNF requested a ten-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 15,000 euros.

The criminal court had also rejected the accusations of the PNF suspecting the former minister of having modified the evaluation criteria of this call for tenders (for a contract worth 5.6 million euros) by reducing the importance given at the price (at 50% instead of 60%) in order to favor SAUR, which has held a public service delegation to manage the municipality’s water since 1994 but is more expensive than competing companies. The evaluation criteria of the call for tenders were “in accordance with the public procurement code, in accordance with the policy of the new municipality”, the court ruled.