Article Index

Structural Corruption

No doubt such deplorable circumstances, which have been revealed over the years by public enquiries, are a form of structural corruption, facilitated by the downright unhealthy relationship between politicians and the French water industry. This form of corruption is much more widely disseminated than personal enrichment, or the occult financing of political parties, which were in the limelight at the beginning of the nineties. It isn’t a coincidence that Veolia and Suez celebrate any instance of pantouflage and the departure of top managers in the state bureaucracy for the free market as a quality sign. Since 2007, Stéphane Richard, formerly head of Veolia Transport, is director of cabinet in the French Ministry for Economy. Veolia’s chairman of the board is a friend of the Minister for Justice Rachida Dati and has therefore privileged contact with the Sarkozy / Fillion regime. Foreign Affairs Minister since 2002, then Internal Affairs Minister, Dominique de Villepin, who was also Prime Minister between 2005 and 2007, consorted for a short while with Veolia as “international consultant”. Sylvain de Forges, financial director of Veolia since 2003 is at the same time chairman of the board of the powerful French Ministry of Finance’s agency “Agence France Trésor“, responsible for handling State properties and debts. Rainier d’Haussonville, at present Manager of Veolia’s European Operations, was head of the “Secrétariat général des affaires européennes“ in the Foreign Affairs Ministry until 2004. He then (between 2005 and 2007) became head of the Department for European Economic Affairs of the French Prime Minister. The political scientist Gérard Le Gall, adviser for public opinion surveys to Prime Minister Jospin, left his university post in July 2004 to join Suez. Before the presidential elections, at which time he switched to Sarkozy, Eric Besson was responsible for the economic programme of the socialist party. Before that, between 1998 and 2002, he had been at the head of the Vivendi (now Veolia) Foundation. Most of those who went through the revolving door of the French water industry to politics and big business graduated from the prestigious ENA (National School for Administration) - even the German Joachim Bitterlich, Executive Vice President of Veolia. No wonder Veolia (until 2002 called Vivendi) stood as short for "VIVier pour ENarques en DIsponibilité", "recruiting fish tank for available ENA graduates”. Quite incidentally, it goes without saying that Veolia is a shareholder of the World Bank and the major shareholder of the French State.