“An awkwardness perhaps”, but not one “Dishonesty” : the defense of the Minister responsible for small and medium-sized enterprises, Alain Griset, did not convince the prosecution, Tuesday, October 12, which requested against him ten to twelve months in prison for having failed to declare part of his assets .
Before the Paris Criminal Court, the prosecutor increased his requisitions with a fine and, above all, with a three-year ineligibility sentence which, he said, would entail “Automatically the prohibition to exercise public functions” and thus effectively terminate his functions as Minister. “Not only is the accused in bad faith, but he is in particular bad faith”, insisted the magistrate.
These remarks offended Alain Griset’s lawyer, Me Patrick Maisonneuve. On leaving the courtroom, he did not hesitate to characterize the requisitions as “Death penalty for a minister, the death penalty for the office”.
“I was badly advised”
Prime Minister in office to appear before a criminal court, Alain Griset, 68, entered the government in July 2020, is being prosecuted for “Incomplete or false declaration of his financial situation” and “Of his interests” for not having mentioned to the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP), as required by law, financial participations held in a stock savings plan for an amount of 171,000 euros. The HATVP had taken legal action in November 2020 after noting the omission of Mr. Griset.
At the hearing, Mr. Griset pleaded good faith. “I was badly advised”, he repeated, rejecting ” awkwardness “ on his banker, accountants and others “Knowing who told me nothing”. “We tried to do the best. We are not lawyers ”, explained the minister. “At no time did I want to cheat, steal or hide anything”, defended the defendant, who claims to have already “Paid in terms of image” the consequences of this case.
The funds come from the office of the National Confederation of Crafts, Trades and Services of the North, which in 2019 had entrusted some 130,000 euros to Mr. Griset, its then president, to place them on his share savings plan (PEA). It was, according to Mr. Griset, to make this sum grow. But, for the HATVP, the omission of declaration was essentially intended “To prevent the revelation of facts likely to receive the criminal qualification of breach of trust”. The court’s decision will be released on December 8.