French rugby supremo Laporte to face anti-fraud squad over Altrad links

Paris (AFP) –


French rugby federation chief Bernard Laporte is to be interviewed by the anti-fraud squad on Tuesday over his links to Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad, according to sources.

Laporte will be interviewed in the framework of a preliminary investigation opened in 2017 by the French Financial Prosecution Office (PNF) following a report by Sports Ministry inspectors.

Laporte is suspected of pressuring the rugby federation's appeals committee to reduce a sanction against Montpellier, owned by businessman Altrad, who owns the Altrad Group -- current sponsors of the France national team.

Laporte, vice-president of World Rugby, was accused of favouritism after it emerged that a company he owns had signed an image rights contract with the Altrad Group in early 2017.

He eventually pulled out of the 150,000-euro ($184,000) deal but the case was investigated by the French Sports Ministry before being passed to the public prosecutor.

Contacted by AFP on Monday, neither Laporte nor the federation wished to make any comment.

Laporte's scheduled appearance before the fraud squad comes just two weeks before elections for the federation presidency, in which Laporte, who was the French Secretary of State for Sports from 2007-09, will run against main rival Florian Grill.

Laporte, a former France and Toulon coach, was first elected to the top federation post in 2016, and victory in the October 3 elections would make him the boss of French rugby when the country hosts the World Cup in 2023.