The former liberal MEP and former France’s Minister of the Armies has been indicted for “embezzlement of public funds”, after a hearing at the Paris court on Friday.
Sylvie Goulard is suspected by the French justice to have participated in a system set up by the Democratic Movement party (MoDem) of François Bayrou, where she remunerated employees of the party as European Parliament assistants, while they did not exercise the function.
Although, Goulard has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the case, investigations will continue until December 6.
After an investigation conducted by the European anti-fraud authority (OLAF) in summer, Goulard had agreed to reimburse the European Parliament 45,000 euros, an amount corresponding to eight months salary of Stéphane Thérou, one of her parliamentary assistants since her first term in 2009, for whom, the MEP could not provide “proof of work”.
MEPs had rejected Goulard during confirmation hearing for EU’s internal market portfolio, over legal concerns related to the misuse of EU funds, by using European Parliament assistants for domestic political work.
France’s new proposal was Thierry Breton, ex-Atos CEO, who convinced the MEPs of the Internal Market and the Industry committee on his suitability for the post, after saying that he sold all of his shares in the tech company, despite doubts remaining.
In 2017, the French prosecutor’s office (OCCLIFF) opened a preliminary investigation of the MoDem party and its MEPs, into allegations of the fictitious employment practices within the European Parliament.
The first indictment for “complicity in embezzlement of public funds” and “concealment” was pronounced on November 15 against the financial director of the centrist party, Alexandre Nardella and led to the resignation of Goulard’s government. The same tactic has been widely used by the former National Front far-right party and France Unbowed socialist party to reduce the parties’ expenses.