It is suspected that a training organisation set up an illicit finance network for the French Communist Party.
It has been revealed that a judicial investigation is looking into the matter regarding the Centre for Information, Documentation, Study and Training of Elected Officials (Cidefe).
The Cidefe training body for elected officials closely connected to the French Communist Party has been under investigation since 2020 at the request of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF).
Investigative news portal Médiapart revealed, as confirmed by other media, that the Cidefe is suspected of “illegal acquisition of interests”, “embezzlement of public funds”, “breach of trust”, “misuse of company assets”, “bankruptcy by embezzlement of assets” and concealment of the latter four offences.
The judiciary is looking into allegations that Cidefe set up a scheme to finance the Communist Party by recouping the training credits of elected communist representatives from different communities through the use of a costly, unlimited annual training package.
Local municipalities paid tens of thousands of euros annually to Cifede for “fictitious” training packages, it is alleged.
Regardless of the actual number of participants, the training sessions were reportedly carried out based on an agreement signed by local mayors.
A regional chamber of auditors report claims that “such a system somewhat undermines the principle of free choice by elected representatives of approved training organisations and disregards the principles of public procurement”.
The report additionally mentions that the relevant departmental branch of Cidefe was administered by a municipal councillor and its president was the first deputy of that municipality.
To sign up for fee-for-service training or training agreements, Cidefe allegedly focused on Communist Party-run town halls.
The judiciary believes the organisation was allegedly thus “subsidising” its departmental branches, which give several hundred thousand euros in rent and equipment to the departmental federations of the Communist Party, contributing a significant portion of its funds.
After searches of relevant premises in 2018 and 2019, an investigative judge was appointed to oversee the case in February 2020. Two years later, new searches were undertaken.
Up to now, no one has been indicted.