French rugby boss Laporte detained by police over alleged tax fraud

By Michael Fitzpatrick - RFI
Europe AFPFile
JAN 24, 2023 LISTEN

French police on Tuesday detained rugby federation president Bernard Laporte for questioning as part of an investigation into suspected tax fraud.

Earlier this month, Laporte stepped back from his role at the FFR without resigning after being convicted of unrelated corruption charges nine months before France hosts the Rugby World Cup.

The fraud investigation dates back to August 2020.
Tuesday's arrest and questioning of the official comes as 2,000 French rugby clubs vote on whether to accept Patrick Buisson as interim president to cover for Laporte, with the results expected on Thursday

"He was summoned for questioning by tax authorities, he went there with a lawyer specialising in tax," one of Laporte's lawyers, Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, told the AFP news agency.

"It is perfectly scandalous that the prosecutors have chosen the date of Patrick Buisson's election for the questioning and that the disclosure of this questioning was made on the same day," he added.

No penalties pending appeal

Former France head coach Laporte, who has been in office since 2016, was found guilty on 13 December of five of the six offences for which he was prosecuted, including corruption and favouritism.

Laporte received a two-year suspended prison sentence.

He was also banned from holding any post for two years. All penalties are suspended pending his appeal.

In the wake of his conviction, Laporte stepped down from his role as vice-chairman of the sport's global governing body, World Rugby, pending a review by its ethics officer.

The Rugby World Cup, the sport's showpiece event, kicks off in Paris on 8 September.