Decaux sentenced in corruption scandal

Jean-Claude Decaux, owner and chairman of outdoor advertising giant JC Decaux, has been sentenced for his part in a French corruption scandal.

Decaux has been fined FF100,000 (£10,000) and given a six-month suspended sentence for collusion after being awarded a contract by a corrupt politician. He plans to appeal against the conviction.

Decaux’s co-defendant Jacques Verlade, vice-president of the RPR party in the French senate and former president of the Aquitane Regional Council, received a similar penalty for bribery.

The court heard Verlade awarded a public works contract to a Decaux subsidiary without inviting other bids. The FF39.8m (£3.9m) contract was awarded to Direct Info Municipale for the rental and maintenance of clocks in the Aquitane region’s 204 secondary schools.

Decaux was charged with “favouritism” under French procure-ment law.

The Bordeaux Criminal Court heard the case’s “pre-contractual negotiations contravened the rules of the public works contract code”.

Decaux Group chief executive Jean-Francois Decaux says his father, Jean-Claude, is confident of winning his appeal. “This is not a case of bribery and corruption. It is a breach of procurement law,” he says.

“He was charged with favouritism ,which does not exist under English law. It is a new law and we hope the Court of Appeal will make a very clear statement that this kind of sentence is completely out of proportion to the facts.

He adds: “I don’t think the case will affect JC Decaux’s reputation.”

Last year, the Decaux Group wrestled control of the £3m Glasgow city bus shelter contract from arch-rival Adshel – part of Clear Channel Communications. A legal appeal by Adshel was later thrown out. JC Decaux also bought rival outdoor contractor Avenir, owner of Mills & Allen, for £650m.

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