“I tried to help and I lost everything”: a one-year suspended prison sentence was requested on Wednesday in Lille against former minister Alain Griset, tried for having invested money from an employers’ organization on his personal PEA.

Prosecuted in particular for “breach of trust”, the former Minister Delegate for SMEs (2020-2021), 68, assured before the criminal court that he had committed “a clumsiness”, but neither “cheating” nor “theft”.

The prosecution requested against him a one-year suspended prison sentence, three years of ineligibility and a fine of at least 80,000 euros.

The decision is due on June 28 at 2:00 p.m.

“We are dealing with someone moved by greed, greed”, pointed out the prosecutor, believing that a mode of operation without counter-powers had allowed her to behave as the owner of this sum, through this investment. “high risk” carried out for personal gain.

His lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve, on the contrary, rejected any personal enrichment and underlined the “unfailing commitment for 40 years (of his client) in associative and union activities”, voluntarily.

Taxi driver for more than 30 years, Mr. Griset resigned from the government following a conviction pronounced on December 8 for incomplete declaration of his financial situation to the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP) .

The Paris Criminal Court sentenced him to a six-month suspended prison sentence and a three-year suspended sentence of ineligibility. He appealed.

Among the undeclared items were 130,000 euros, belonging to the National Confederation of Crafts, Trades and Services (Cnams) of the North, which he chaired, placed for eleven months on his personal PEA.

Mr. Griset explained that he found it “more flexible and easier” to use his PEA to make the money of the employers’ organization grow.

He assured that he had always acted, voluntarily, in the interest of this structure, the operation of which was based on “trust” and where the procedures could lack “formalism”.

Confronted by the court with the statements of members of the board of directors of Cnams, who told the investigators that they had not been informed of the operation, he explained that he had taken this decision alone. But assured that the members of the board of directors were aware of it.

He pointed to the responsibility of the bank, which did not warn him against this operation and did not inform him that the PEA ceiling was exceeded.

Cnams, a legal person, could not open a PEA, reserved for natural persons.

Mr. Griset, who wore countless hats before that of minister – at the Union of Local Businesses (U2P), the Chamber of Trades … -, then managed eleven bank accounts in the name of various structures.

He had paid the 130,000 euros into a Cnams account after his appointment to the government in July 2020, before a second payment of some 19,000 euros, supposed to correspond to the capital gain realized.

But according to the calculations of Tracfin, the anti-money laundering unit of Bercy, the added value would actually exceed 41,000 euros.

“What I have read is not worthy of Tracfin!” Mr. Griset was annoyed, saying he had “fallen on the ass” by reading their reasoning and assuring that 19,000 euros constituted a nice capital gain.

The president also questioned him about the contact made with the secretary general of the Élysée in November 2020, when the HATVP put him in the hot seat. According to the former minister, Alexis Kohler asked him to certify the agreement of the members of the board of directors to the placement of the sum in his PEA.

Suspected of forgery and use of forgery for a document which was shown to Mr. Kohler, the defendant assured that he had neither written nor circulated it himself.

25/05/2022 20:36:27 –         Lille (AFP)           © 2022 AFP