Fictitious jobs: the former Keeper of the Seals Michel Mercier sentenced to three years in prison suspended
The Paris Criminal Court on Thursday sentenced the former Keeper of the Seals Michel Mercier to a three-year suspended prison sentence for having granted fictitious parliamentary jobs to his wife and one of his daughters between 2005 and 2014. Nicolas’ former minister Sarkozy (2010-2012), aged 75, was guilty of embezzlement of public funds for having paid, as part of his duties as a senator, 50,000 euros in salary to his wife, Joëlle, between 2005 and 2009, and more than 37,000 euros to his daughter, Delphine, from 2012 to 2014.
Judging that the facts were “of a certain gravity” and that Michel Mercier had “prevailed his personal interest over the common interest”, the justice also sentenced him to a fine of 50,000 euros, five years of ineligibility and three-year ban from public office. The former centrist senator was also convicted of negligent embezzlement of public funds for continuing to pay a parliamentary aide who no longer worked for him. He was also tried for illegal taking of interests, but the facts of which he was accused in this respect were declared time-barred by the court.
His wife and daughter also sentenced
Convicted of complicity and concealment, his wife Joëlle and his daughter Delphine were sentenced, respectively, to 18 months suspended prison sentence and 40,000 euros fine for the first and to 12 months suspended sentence and 10,000 euros fine for the second. Michel Mercier’s lawyer declined to comment.
Denouncing “the contradictions and the most total artistic vagueness” of the politician and accusing him of opting “for dodging and countercurrent responses”, the prosecution had requested against the politician four years of imprisonment, one of which is firm, ten years of ineligibility and a ban on all public office for five years. During the trial, the former minister for his part denied any will to do wrong, highlighting his status as a rural elected official and pleading peasant common sense against the “Parisians” of the national financial prosecutor’s office (PNF).
Statements “devoid of any credibility”
Justifying the employment of his daughter from 2012 to 2014, when she lived in London and never set foot in the Senate, he had thus affirmed that she served as his “cultural adviser”. Delphine Mercier, she said she threw away “during a move” all her notes relating to her work. In its deliberation, the court considered that “these statements were devoid of any likelihood”.
The facts judged are spread over a period when family parliamentary jobs were not yet prohibited. They have been since the summer of 2017 following the resounding Fillon affair. The investigation, opened by the PNF in August 2017 after an article in Le Canard enchaîné, had led the former Keeper of the Seals to give up the seat which was then promised to him on the Constitutional Council. The former minister and senator remains implicated in another file of fictitious jobs. Since 2019, he has been indicted in the case of MoDem MEP assistants alongside other centrist party executives, including François Bayrou.