The former minister of François Hollande and current president of the PS of the departmental council of Gers, Philippe Martin, was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison for embezzlement of public funds.
Between 2002 and 2013, he paid his ex-wife Joëlle Martin for a fictitious job as parliamentary assistant. In solidarity with the latter, also sentenced to six months probationary reprieve for complicity and concealment of embezzlement of public funds, the former deputy of the Gers will have to reimburse the 238,000 euros that she had received in total at the National Assembly.
Both were also declared ineligible for three years and will have to pay respectively 70,000 and 30,000 euros in fines.
“Personal enrichment with public funds”
The former couple could not provide “any material trace” of work by Joëlle Martin who had “no material placed at her disposal (nor) any contact with the other assistants who were not aware” of her employment , underlined the financial prosecutor Sébastien de La Touanne. They kept “total discretion over this hiring”, he added. Philippe Martin had thus omitted to declare it to the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP).
If there was “personal enrichment on public funds”, both nevertheless “testified to a certain capacity for amendment”, underlined the other representative of the public prosecutor Aurélien Létocart, justifying the suspended prison sentence, in “perfect consistency” with other similar cases (in 2018, the former deputy Alain Marsaud was sentenced to one year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 300,000 euros for having paid his daughter for a fictitious job as a parliamentary collaborator) .
Philippe Martin, 68, will also have to repay 194,000 euros to the National Assembly for having paid, with money from the Palais Bourbon, a woman who worked for the Socialist Party of Auch between 2005 and 2012.
“I agree to recognize the facts and accept the proposed penalties”, declared the former Minister of Ecology of François Hollande, from July 2013 to March 2014, and also former president of the French Biodiversity Agency . His ex-wife, who was on a videoconference, also acknowledged the facts and accepted the sentence negotiated with the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), sine qua non conditions for benefiting from an appearance on prior admission of guilt.
The investigation started in 2017, after the Auch prosecutor’s office and the PNF received two anonymous letters of denunciation. The latter then requested information from the National Assembly, the Urssaf and the HATVP and entrusted the investigations to the Central Office for the fight against corruption and financial and fiscal offenses (OCLCIFF).