|A glass and a microphone with a man sitting behind them|
It was finally decided by an arbitral body appointed by Nicolas Sarkozy's government that Tapie was right and that therefore he would be given €405 million of taxpayers' money in compensation. That caused a minor stir at the time but, as is usual in France where the rich and influential are involved, it came to nothing, the years passed, and the affair was forgotten.
Last year however it emerged that then Economy Minister Christine Lagarde, in Sarkozy's government, had successfully demanded that the government and presidency intervene in his favour, an intervention, it is said, which led to Tapie getting his hands on the money. She denied it under questioning and is currently an assisted witness before a Parisian court, which thinks she may be lying.
Events have moved quickly since then. One of Tapie's lawyers and a political adviser to Lagarde were arrested recently on suspicion that they, and Tapie himself, had participated in meetings at the Elysée designed to perfect the strategy which would give him the money.
But why, you may ask, were those meetings ever held? After all, Tapie had been a socialist minister and he was dealing here with Sarkozy, his right-of-centre political antithesis. So what was the common interest?
The common interest, it now transpires, was that Tapie had promised his support for Sarkozy in the latter's efforts to be elected president in 2007 in return for his favourable intervention in his fight against the bank. And, once the deal agreed, Tapie did indeed support him, and had thus turned his political vest for money.
Sarkozy, Tapie, Lagarde and all the others denied that any such arrangement was made. Well, almost all the others. Because Lagarde's political advisor, already in custody, told investigators two days ago that Tapie had actively participated in the deal. He asserted moreover that Claude Guéant, Sarkozy's Chief of Staff at the Elysée, had also known about this operation and had participated in it. Guéant too denies it but the case has become so strong that he too is now under investigation, and Tapie shall not be far behind.
But most importantly however, Guéant, as head of the Elysée's administration and second only to Sarkozy, could not have been able to do this without Sarkozy's permission.
Which leads us to the top of the ladder. The President. Sarkozy. It is as plain as white on rice that this scam occured and that Sarkozy approved it. Do I have the proof? No. Of course not, in a country where it is almost impossible to gain access to the communications - email, letters, meetings, other documentation - which would be needed to prove it.
And that means that even if this scandal reaches Sarkozy, which it looks set to do, neither he nor any of the others will be found guilty of any malpractice. They will be aquitted without trial. Except, possibly, for Tapie's lawyer and Lagarde's political advisor, who may soon find themselves cast in the role of sacrificial lambs, scapegoats, and a sop to the French people in a shabby effort to be able to say that the rich and powerful are not immune from justice.
But they are immune, and the French know it. French democracy is extremely fragile compared to that of other comparable countries precisely because of the sheer amount of abuse its leaders are able to indulge themselves in without being made accountable either to the justice system or the public.
No wonder the French detest their political classes more than is the case anywhere else in Europe. The French elites are liars, thieves, opportunists, a back-scratching mafia, and I for one would be more than pleased to see the French people take to the streets to shout;
CA SUFFIT MAINTENANT!!
But they won't, because their demonstration time is already full of demos against economic measures which are eating away at their salaries due to the financial crisis. So it shall be business as usual.
The French - 'a revolutionary people'? - Laisse moi rire va.....