Bernard Squarcini, former head of domestic intelligence, is due to appear before the Paris Criminal Court. He is accused of having used his connections in the police force to obtain confidential information and personal advantages, in particular for the benefit of Bernard Arnault, the head of LVMH and his group.
A series of twists and turns worthy of the great Mafia films. The former head of domestic intelligence, Bernard Squarcini, is to appear before the Paris Criminal Court. He is suspected of having illegally used his connections to obtain confidential information for private interests, mainly for luxury goods giant LVMH and its CEO Bernard Arnault.
Nicknamed “Le Squale”, 67-year-old Bernard Squarcini is at the heart of the investigation, which began twelve years ago because of his links with the luxury goods group LVMH. While he was initially indicted in 2016, the charges against him were broadened in 2021. He will be tried for eleven offenses, including passive influence peddling, embezzlement of public funds by a private individual, compromising the secrecy of national defense, breach of trust, forgery in public writing, complicity and concealment in the violation of professional and investigative secrecy.
In an order dated September 1, two investigating judges also ordered the trial of ten other people, including a former magistrate, a prefect and former senior police officers and consultants. These individuals are suspected of having responded, to varying degrees, to Bernard Squarcini’s requests.
But the road to these accusations was a long one. Born in Rabat (Morocco) in 1955, Bernard Squarcini holds a master’s degree in law and is a graduate of the Institute of Criminology. Head of the Brest Renseignements Généraux department in 1981, he then became deputy regional director of the Corsican Renseignements Généraux (1983-1988), then departmental director of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Renseignements Généraux in 1988-1989, before being appointed head of the “investigation and research” division at the Renseignements Généraux central headquarters in 1989. In 1993, Bernard Squarcini was appointed Deputy Director of Research at the Central Intelligence Service. In July 1994, he was appointed Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Service (DCRG).
Bernard Squarcini was one of the architects of the 2003 arrest of Yvan Colonna, the presumed assassin of Prefect Claude Érignac, while Nicolas Sarkozy was Minister of the Interior. In 2007, he was appointed Director of Territorial Surveillance (DST). On July 2, 2008, he was appointed head of the Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI), created from the merger of the DST and the DCRG.
On May 30, 2012, he was replaced in this position and became préfet hors cadre. He left the police force on February 28, 2013 and set up his own firm, Kyrnos Conseil. He was also hired by the business intelligence firm Arcanum in June 2013.
During searches of his home, over 400 classified documents were discovered.
Alongside Bernard Squarcini in the dock, ten other individuals are expected to appear in court. Among them are prominent government officials, including Prefect Pierre Lieutaud, who held the position of number 2 in the National Intelligence Coordinator, and Laurent Marcadier, a former magistrate at the Paris Court of Appeal. Also present will be former senior police officers Charles Pellegrini, Hervé Seveno and Jean-François Lelièvre, as well as consultants. It should be noted that Pierre Godé, who was once LVMH’s number 2 and whom several people involved identified as one of the key players, died at the beginning of 2018.
The investigation focused on four aspects, including the 2008 attempt by DCRI police officers to identify the perpetrator of a blackmail attempt targeting Bernard Arnault and the LVMH group. The DCRI also looked into the spying of François Ruffin, now an LFI MP, and his newspaper Fakir between 2013 and 2016.
Luxury giant LVMH is no longer involved in the proceedings since it paid a 10 million euro fine at the end of 2021 to avoid prosecution for influence peddling.
Bernard Squarcini’s lawyers have not yet been contacted. The judges consider that the defense’s argument that the protection of Bernard Arnault’s purely private interests is equivalent to that of his economic assets is a manifest error on Bernard Squarcini’s part.
They also consider that the DCRI, under Squarcini’s direction, should not have intervened in this case. The two financial magistrates claim that Bernard Squarcini’s action inevitably caused damage to the DCRI and, more broadly, to the French state.
Lawyers for Franck Alioui, a police officer who has filed a civil suit in this case, claim that this trial will illustrate the misuse of the mission of senior civil servants, in particular Bernard Squarcini, for personal ends, to the detriment of the credibility of the State.
For Vincent Brengarth, one of Franck Alioui’s lawyers, the trial will be a real “event”. “For years now, we’ve been trying to document the privatization of the intelligence services by senior French officials, but these are things that are extremely difficult to source and document”. According to the lawyer, “the intelligence services operate in a form of opacity, and that’s why this trial is going to be exceptional”.
Featured photo : ©RIVA PRESS
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