GOING. Monday, December 13, 2021, Claude Guéant was imprisoned in the prison of Health in Paris. The former Minister of the Interior is criticized for not honoring his debts quickly enough.
[Mise à jour le 13 décembre à 20h10] He is the first former French interior minister to be imprisoned. This Monday, December 13, Claude Guéant was imprisoned at the Health prison in Paris. At the start of the day, a committal warrant was issued by a sentencing judge. This decision comes within the framework of the “cabinet bonuses” file. The former “first cop” of France benefited from cash bonuses every month from 2002 to 2004 while he worked as chief of staff to the Minister of the Interior … a certain Nicolas Sarkozy. For this case, he was sentenced in 2019 to two years in prison, including a suspended sentence, a ban from exercising any public office for five years, a fine of 75,000 euros, but also to reimburse 190,000 euros to the Public Treasury .
However, according to the elements collected by The Parisian, the one who was also secretary general of the Elysee between 2007 and 2011, would have reimbursed only a little more than a third of his due, or 75,000 euros, “largely, in a forced way through foreclosure” , precise Franceinfo. Indeed, a seizure of the amount of his retirement has been put in place, up to 3000 euros monthly out of the 5500 euros he receives each month. An insufficient pace in the eyes of justice, which wants the debt to be erased as quickly as possible, while the 76-year-old man still has to pay 115,000 euros. According to the sentencing chamber, quoted by the public service media, Claude Guéant would have, beyond his retirement, “additional sources of income” and could have “paid more” and “earlier”.
Claude Guéant’s lawyer reacts
Shortly after the announcement of Claude Guéant’s imprisonment, his lawyer spoke about BFM TV. Philippe Bouchez El Ghozi explained that Claude Guéant “did everything to honor this debt. He does not understand why justice did not believe him when he said he did not have more money to pay and s ‘he is surprised today that he is being put in prison when he does not have one more euro “. The council of this very close to Nicolas Sarkozy evoked “a man who is extremely affected, who sees this situation very badly. He has a debt, it is due, he does not deny it”.
Elysee premiums case
Claude Guéant, former close to Nicolas Sarkozy, who was his secretary general of the Elysée Palace and then his Minister of the Interior, was definitively sentenced to a prison sentence on Wednesday January 16, 2019, in the case of cash bonuses. The Court of Cassation rejected his cassation appeal, which effectively validates the sentence handed down by the Paris Court of Appeal on January 23, 2018.
Claude Guéant was condemned for having received bonuses in cash when he was himself in the service of Nicolas Sarkozy place Beauvau, between 2002 and 2004. A process without legal existence that he presented as a “usual” practice within the ministry for rounding off the end of the month for the firm’s collaborators. The sums were taken each month from a fund supposed to help the police in their investigations.
A system of embezzlement
Since 2000 and the law on the transparency of public life, and a fortiori since 2002 and the abolition of special funds by Lionel Jospin, these practices, which were indeed customary in the ministries, are however strictly prohibited. This did not prevent Claude Guéant from building a system of embezzlement of public funds described as “scandalous” by the magistrates. Former director general of the national police, Claude Guéant had, according to the judges, “abused his knowledge” of the post to claim sums from his successor, Michel Gaudin, who had his hand over the envelopes of investigation and surveillance costs (FES). In the cabinet of Nicolas Sarkozy, then Minister of the Interior, Claude Guéant would have received up to 10,000 euros per month for a total sum of 210,000 euros between 2002 and 2004.
At first instance, Claude Guéant had already been sentenced to two years suspended prison sentence, a fine of 75,000 euros and a five-year ban from all public office. The court of appeal had decided to be even more severe, by adding a prison sentence. This affair is an additional shadow on the table of the Sarkozy years. Claude Guéant was the closest collaborator of the former head of state, following him throughout his ascent, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Elysee Palace, until he himself became minister from 2011. Nicknamed “the cardinal” when he worked behind the scenes of power, the name of Claude Guéant is associated with several other cases such as those of the Elysee polls, the Tapie arbitration case, links of the former head of state with Muammar Gaddafi or in the polls affair.
This is not the only case in which Claude Guéant is involved. The former secretary general of the Elysee Palace is also being sued in the so-called “polls”, this file which implicates the statesman and several close associates of Nicolas Sarkozy for having, during the presidency of the former boss of the UMP, bought for 7.4 million euros of advice in opinion and polls between 2007 and 2012, in obscure conditions. On December 3, 2021, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office requested a firm year and 10,000 euros fine against Claude Guéant for favoritism and embezzlement of public funds through negligence.
Biography of Claude Guéant
A great figure in the High Civil Service, Claude Guéant worked alongside the ministerial sphere in 1977, first with Christian Bonnet (Minister of the Interior), then with Charles Pasqua (Minister of the Interior and Regional Planning) . From 2002 to 2007, he worked successively for the cabinet of Nicolas Sarkozy, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Interior. In 2007, he joined forces with Nicolas Sarkozy, who appointed him director of his campaign for the presidential election. The victory of the UMP candidate earned him the appointment of Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic, and his influence made him a leading figure.
In February 2011, he succeeded Brice Hortefeux as Minister of the Interior, Overseas Territories, Local Authorities and Immigration, a post he lost when François Hollande was elected. In 2013, Claude Guéant was threatened by several cases, in particular the case of the financing of the Sarkozy campaign of 2007, fictitious jobs, the sale of paintings … He was finally placed in police custody on May 26, 2014 in the context of of the Tapie case. In 2015, Claude Guéant was sentenced at first instance in the case of “cabinet bonuses in cash”. In 2017, he appealed against this sentence but his sentence was increased. He was sentenced to two years in prison, one of which was closed, a fine of € 75,000 and ban from holding public office for five years.