How Whistleblowers are being assassinated in France (Part III)
How Whistleblowers are being assassinated in France (Part III)
The most corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
The ‘Connectivity’ or the Network of the powerful ones
On June 20th, 2014 I was carefully listening to a speech given by Jean-Philippe Carpentier, former Director of TRACFIN (the French agency in charge of tracking the illicit circulation of capital), which is the money laundering cell of the French Ministry of Finances, during a round-table conference taking place at the French Parliament about the struggle against tax evasion. This top ranking civil servant then told us that in 1998 and 1999, the highest level of our State had ordered to be exclusively in charge of the street criminality. He repeated this sentence three times for the audience to understand that the white-collar criminality was at that time offered a form of impunity.
The whistleblowers suffer from the slowness of the justice because it is not independent from the political strength in power. The relationship developed by lobbyists and the elected representatives of the citizens is too close and leads to the fact that neither the whistleblowers nor the general interest can really be protected. The UBS file is a case study: A couple of weeks before I was dismissed by UBS at the beginning of 2012, the members of the ‘workers committee’ were called for a monthly meeting on November 29th, 2011. Point 4 of the agenda was about the recruitment of the future President: “The new CEO will have to be able to improve the access of UBS to the highest levels of the French society […], to bear the UBS responsibilities in terms of risk, compliance and flexibility”. The President considers that “the group needs even more connectivity than skills to interfere with the French decision process by opening the doors of the CAC40 and the wealthy families”. Béatrice Lorin-Guérin, Head of the Resources Department, closed the point adding that “if the sales qualities of the future CEO are important, the latter mustn’t necessarily only have a private banking background”.
Jean-Frédéric de Leusse, a former member of the Council of State, took office in March 2012. In the months that followed, Françoise Bonfante, the UBS France compliance officer, was appointed by Pierre Moscovici, our French Minister of Finances, to the Commission of the Sanctions of the Financial Services Authority (Autorité des Marchés Financiers - AMF), the policeman of the banks, whereas UBS Switzerland and UBS France were already placed under investigation several times. Enough with the incestuous marriages between the finance industry, the control authorities and the political ‘elites’. Anne Michel, a journalist at Le Monde, informed us on March 1st, 2014 that “it is a little political moment of friction” which Pierre Moscovici would have preferred to avoid when announcing the resignation two days before of the one whom he nominated on December 20th, 2013. Indeed, after being informed of Mrs Bonfante’s appointment, I exposed this choice on the radio Europe 1 on February 6th, 2014 and in parallel had submitted the case to Senator Eric Bocquet, who then exposed the problem during a public audition at the Senate, asking Mr Cazeneuve, our former Minister of Budget, to explain this appointment. The Deputy Alain Bocquet, also interested by the subject, followed suit and asked the same question to Mr Cazeneuve during a session at the French Parliament. United we stand proved that we were right. The position of this former UBS Head of Compliance had been immediately filled by an acquaintance of Mr. de Leusse, who attended the Voltaire class of the Ecole Normale d’Administration (ENA), of which President Hollande was also a student. As far as the UBS banker teams are concerned, they welcomed in Paris at the beginning of 2013, the young son of François Fillon. Was this, then, the UBS strategy in terms of ‘connectivity’?
The journalists Fabrice Lhomme et Gérard Davret signed an article on February 19th, 2016 informing us in a more surprising way that a policeman working for the counter-espionage services (DCRI which had then be replaced by the DGSI – Direction Générale des Services Intérieurs) had been fired because he blew the whistle to his hierarchy, writing a note, as early as 2009, relating to the potential double accounting implemented by UBS to hide tax evasion illegal practices. He was notified of his eviction by Bernard Squarcini, the Head of the Counter-Espionage services, who was Nicolas Sarkozy’s right hand in the Services. […]. The attitude of the DCRI counter-espionage services by that time is quite scheming. Besides, in 2013, the judge seized a note which a collective of counter-espionage policemen and officers had handed over to the Parti Socialiste. Deputy Yann Galut who, by that time, was working on tax evasion. Why didn’t the ‘K’ sub-management of the DCRI inform the Public Prosecutor of thiscriminal violation of the law by UBS? The policemen wondered. Why did the ‘K’ sub-management focus its surveillance on the UBS executives who were exposing the fraud system rather than on the ones at the origin of the system? In other words, did one fear the disclosures of certain names such as those of Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s sister-in-law, or Liliane Bettencourt as the journalists questioned. However, UBS would have filed a complaint against the daily paper for “violation of the secrecy of the investigation”.
Another shocking example is that of the Swiss whistleblower Yasmine Motarjemi’s at Nestlé. Axa, the legal insurance company of the whistleblower, had initially recognized the harassment she suffered in the serious context of the food security management, but this would also have played a trick. Mrs. Motarjemi has also acted against the insurance company and had won her case. In 2012, during the legal case against Axa, Nestlé appointed the Axa CEO to their Board of Directors at Nestlé. This meant that in 2012, the Axa CEO Henri de Castries was a member of the Board of Directors of a company sued by the company he was the Director of. However, Henri de Castries never mentioned this during the shareholders general assemblies. Neither did the NGOs, aware of the situation, nor did the media make any reference. They should have mentioned this situation as if ethics, food safety, public health and human rights were not taken into consideration while the financial performances were the only ones prevailing. This testimony can but only remind us of Suelette Dreyfus’s statement “the road will be long and rocky”, especially when one knows the Swiss Bill passed at the end of 2014 which makes the situation of the whistleblowers worse in the Confederation.
Photo: Yasmine Motarjemi at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Receiving the Daphné Caruana prize for the "Journalists, Whistleblowers and Defenders to the right of information" - personal collection
Yasmine Motarjemi’s harassment at Nestlé was recognized by the Swiss justice however she has never been compensated for her 15-year damages and financial losses. On March 8th 2021, on Women’s Rights Day, she informed uson social networks that Mr. Roland Stalder, former Quality Head at Nestlé, recognized by two courts of the Vaud canton to have harassed Mrs. Motarjemi for four years, destroying her career and bringing terrible suffering to make her sick and take her to endless legal procedures (Mrs.Motarjemi’s statement at court, written in her letter to Mr. Schneider, Nestle CEO) was starting his first working day as the mayor of Valeyres-sous-Rances, the city where he was recently elected. The whistleblower insists on the fact that he has voluntarily neglected the management of the food safety, endangered children’s lives and that fatal incidents have happened. Of course, he never acted alone as he was working under the direction of Paul Bulcke, the former Nestle CEO who nowadays is the President of the Board of Directors. Yasmine Motarjemi describes the same picture as the one we see here in France, explaining that in Switzerland, thugs have a good life: they are rewarded, promoted whereas skilled and competent employes are excluded from the workplace. According to the former Nestlé executive, Seren Guttmann’s tribune: Harassers and Mobbers triumph raises a key issue: “How normal is this that a harasser, recognized as such by a court, be elected? Many people witness a similar experience, their lives have been destroyed however the harassers, the stalkers triumph and continue their career. And they do not repent".
While the connectivity and the plutocracy enjoy a nice present and prepare a nice future for their protected ones, whistleblowers live in precarious situations, suffer pressures and even experience fear. Wouldn’t ‘connectivity’ mean ‘against all’? In January 2017, my lawyer David Koubbi Esq., who defended my interests against UBS, declared to Olivier Tesquet, a journalist at Télérama that “people like Stéphanie Gibaud announce the collapsing of the system”. Is the connectivity, which one could qualify as ‘consanguinity’, made in order to have decision circles get closer, ethical in a democracy? Does it favour the protection of each citizen?
The “Deep State” expression, used by the ones described as ‘conspirationists’ emphasizes the idea of a parallel, totally illegitimate power which operates in public affairs while pursuing their unique interests. The State must promote common good while the “Deep State” is in favor of the elite only.
The journalists members of Le Siècle, stars of TV studios, mainstream media editors-in-chief, reveal the inter se organizing lies and closes their eyes on the truth. Which one among them is nowadays informing their readers / audience about the stakes of the appeal trial of the bank UBS, fined for tax evasion in 2019? As declared to RT France, UBS is the bank of the PEP ('politically exposed persons’), which means of the political women and men worldwide. Unfortunately, it seems that this news is not a priority. Would Jérôme Cahuzac remain an isolated case? The complicit silence speaks volume as far as corruption in the country of human rights is concerned.
Elected Representative’s Support of Whistleblowers is very rare
One could have expected that the vast majority of the prominent politicians would defend the ones who have lost years of their lives because they acted towards the general interest and in the common good of all citizens. However it is on the contrary.
There have been a few courageous politicians who have stood up and supported my case in the media: Eric Bocquet from the Parti Communiste (Communist Party) and a Senator from the North of France, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Deputy and President of Debout la France), who was elected in 2013 as Deputy of the Year for his report about tax havens, together with the then Parti Communiste (Communist Party) former Deputy Alain Bocquet, Charles de Courson (a UDI Deputy), Yann Galut (a former Parti Socialiste Deputy) and more recently Vincent Maurice (a Parti Socialiste Senator), the author of a courageous press release in February 2017 when I was taken to court by UBS for defamation as well as Stéphane Saint-André (a PRG Deputy). As far as Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (a Parti Socialiste Senator) is concerned, she invited me to her office during summer 2016 as she had previously organized a colloquium at the Senate with Ricardo Etchegaray, the administrator of the federal administration of public tax revenues in Argentina. In 2019, the deputies Christine Pires-Beaune and Fabien Roussel were unsuccessful when questioning the Minister of Budget about putting an end to my unfair and cruel situation.
Integrity and Politics
The former public prosecutor Éric de Montgolfier was wisely answering the journalist Daniel Schneidermann on the set of the Arrêts sur Images (Stops on Images) program in July 2015 with these words “If one expects from those who have implemented the system to change it, one is not ready to see any results”.
At the beginning of 2015, I met the Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, President of Debout la France, at his office located next to the French Parliament. We had met a year before while he had worked on the fight against tax evasion and precisely on what is known as the ‘VAT carousel’ which would cost our country fourteen billion euros per year. Much to my surprise, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan proposed me to lead the Paris list for the 2015 regional elections under the colors of his Debout la France political party. I had never been a political activist in my life and above all, I did not want to supplant anybody. Furthermore, I am an independent woman and am not a card-carrying member of a party. “You obviously are a political activist, Stephanie. You want to put ethics into the finance industry. In politics, I fight with the same values. […] You had the courage to disclose the malfunctions of a large Swiss bank; as far as I am concerned, I left the UMP when Nicolas Sarkozy took power whilst not respecting the votes of the citizens against the Lisbon treaty”. I would then do things unknowingly! Considering the fact that politics must be contemplated in the Latin sense of the word, the management of the city, I accepted his proposal while keeping my independence. However, I provoked angry responses from several French whistleblowers whereas this very decision was welcomed by whistleblowers abroad. In 2019, not a single media mentioned that I was Number 2 of the 2019 Debout la France European list. Ethics in politics and ethical politicians do not seem to be a piece of news to be discussed on TV studios.
Photo: With Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and the statues #anythingtosay? in front of the Pompidou Center, Paris, September 2015. Paris is the only city were the statues have been damaged.
To be continued: 'How Whistleblowers are being assassinated in France (Part IV)’
Cover photo: Mrs Monique Dilts, Free Assange Belgium Committee