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ReligionFORBScandal Hits MIVILUDES in France

Scandal Hits MIVILUDES in France

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Juan Sanchez Gil
Juan Sanchez Gil
Juan Sanchez Gil - at The European Times News - Mostly in the back lines. Reporting on corporate, social and governmental ethics issues in Europe and internationally, with emphasis on fundamental rights. Also giving voice to those not being listened to by the general media.

In a recent expose by journalist Steve Eisenberg for RELIGACTU, the Mission Interministérielle de Lutte contre les Dérives Sectaires (MIVILUDES) in France finds itself engulfed in a deep financial scandal that has shaken the nation.

The scandal unfolded in two stages, with the first revelation coming from the Cour des Comptes, which issued a damning report on the management of MIVILUDES’ project funding and the distribution of grants to anti-sectarian associations. According to the President of the Cour des Comptes, Pierre Moscovici, “the analysis of the fund management procedures reveals serious deficiencies. These shortcomings became even more apparent during the national project calls launched in 2021, the first of which was intended for the ‘fight against sectarian drifts’.”

President Moscovici highlighted numerous irregularities in the management of public funds, including incomplete grant applications being approved, missing mandatory supporting documents, lack of fund control and monitoring, failure to request refunds for projects not executed, overpayments to certain associations, and more. As a result, the Cour des Comptes has referred the matter to the public prosecutor for further investigation, with the Chamber of Contentious Matters now tasked with judicial oversight. Moscovici emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating that the Chamber will investigate, potentially prosecute, and condemn those responsible, calling it a “serious matter.”

The following day, Le Monde shed light on the events leading to the Chamber of Contentious Matters’ involvement. In an article titled “One Year After the Marianne Fund Scandal, Scrutiny on MIVILUDES‘ Management,” journalist Samuel Laurent confirmed that a series of complaints had been filed against MIVILUDES and several anti-sectarian associations for alleged misappropriation of public funds, breach of trust, conflict of interest, and forgery. These complaints were lodged by an association known as CAPLC (Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience).

Of particular concern were substantial grants (over half of the 2021 project funding of one million euros) awarded to two associations whose presidents also sat on MIVILUDES’ Steering Committee: UNADFI (National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and Individuals) led by President Joséphine Cesbron (whose husband also serves as UNADFI’s lawyer, raising suspicions of conflict of interest), and CCMM (Center Against Mental Manipulations) led by President Francis Auzeville.

Moreover, projects funded that never materialized should have triggered grant reimbursements. Instead, MIVILUDES renewed the grants the following year, despite being aware of the irregularities. The article in Le Monde cited internal sources confirming repeated warnings about the legal risks posed by such irregularities to the CIPDR’s management and the Secretary of State’s office.

In response to the allegations, MIVILUDES President Donatien Le Vaillant defended the organization’s actions by stating that a reform of the grant allocation process had been initiated since November 2023. However, this response comes after alerts dating back to 2021, raising doubts about its effectiveness in quelling the controversy and avoiding criminal convictions.

The unfolding scandal has cast a shadow over MIVILUDES and raised serious questions about the management of public funds and conflicts of interest within the organization. As investigations continue and legal proceedings loom, the future of MIVILUDES remains uncertain amidst the turmoil.

Le Monde’s reporting has brought to light a scandal that has rocked the foundations of MIVILUDES and sparked a national debate on accountability and transparency in public institutions.

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