In the midst of pension reform, the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt in turmoil
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On the front line on the highly contested pension reform, the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt found himself weakened by suspicions of “favoritism” when he was mayor of Annonay. Supported by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, he vigorously denied this on Saturday.
He is the one who has carried the pension reform since this fall. The Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, suspected of “favoritism”, received the support of the head of government, .
Whoever must defend the text Tuesday, February 6 before the National Assembly, “has the full confidence of the Prime Minister”, indicated Matignon.
Asked, the Elysée did not comment, believing that everything had been said in the reaction of Elisabeth Borne.
According to Friday’s revelations from Mediapart, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) has retained the offense of “favoritism” for a future trial against Olivier Dussopt, which will relate to a public contract concluded at the end of the 2000s. with the Saur group.
The investigation had started with two lithographs by the painter Gérard Garouste, which had been offered to him by a local Saur manager in 2017. He then returned the paintings.
“In May 2020, a press article believed it could question my relations with a water group in the town of Annonay, of which I was the mayor” and “the financial prosecutor’s office opened an investigation and carried out numerous checks”, reported the minister on Saturday on France Inter.
“At the end of this investigative work, the prosecution had grouped the facts into five points and I note that the explanations given with my lawyer convinced the prosecution of my good faith since on four of these five points, the prosecution decided that it was necessary” to classify them, without “prosecution for corruption, taking of interest or enrichment”, he added.
But “the prosecution considered that in the context of a procedure for the public market in 2009 (…), there could be an offense of favoritism”, “a thesis which I dispute”, hammered the minister.
According to Mediapart, the search is being carried out at the minister’s premises by financial investigators from the Central Office for the Fight against Financial and Tax Offenses (Oclciff) updated “exchanges between Olivier Dussopt and (the Saur) seeming to leave little of doubt about the existence of an arrangement around a public market dated 2009-2010”, when he was deputy and socialist mayor of this commune of Ardèche.
“Borne has no choice”
Olivier Dussopt claims to have “only one wish”: “Continue to convince and explain how things happened to convince of (s)a good faith”.
Still, this case comes at the worst time for the government: the pension marathon will restart in Parliament and two new days of mobilization are scheduled by the inter-union, next Tuesday and Saturday, against the decline in the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old.
“Olivier Dussopt will have favored someone in his life,” tackled the rebellious Hadrien Clouet on Twitter. But “no favoritism for France which works hard”, underlined the communist deputy Sébastien Jumel.
Olivier Dussopt is “guilty” of having “favored the most unfair responses, those which will penalize the greatest number of our fellow citizens”, supported the socialist Jérôme Guedj on France 2 on Saturday.
Can he stay on? Elisabeth Borne “doesn’t have much choice because it would weaken this reform a little more”, according to this deputy, who thinks that Olivier Dussopt “is not going to have his mind fully available to defend, badly, the reform”.
At the heart of the government system, he is also at the helm, with the Minister of the Interior, on the immigration bill, and in the coming months at the forefront of a bill dedicated to full employment.
Olivier Dussopt is not the only minister to find himself in turmoil in the midst of pension reform. Before him, Éric Woerth had been splashed by the Bettencourt affair in 2010, when the report of the legal age from 62 to 64 years old. The ex-LR then obtained a release.
At the time of the reform project for Macron’s first five-year term, the High Commissioner for Pensions, Jean-Paul Delevoye, had resigned in December 2019 for not having declared several mandates to the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP). He was sentenced in December 2021 to a four-month suspended prison sentence and a 15,000 euro fine.