Christine Lagarde is no longer the only (alleged) criminal in charge of a money-printing operation: on Friday, French prosecutors said they had opened a corruption investigation into top central banker Sylvie Goulard, who simultaneously stepped down from the Bank of France.
The probe covers suspicions of accepting bribes, influence peddling, illegal conflicts of interest and breach of trust, the national financial prosecutor’s office said, confirming a report from daily Liberation. Graft-fighting group Anticor triggered the probe by filing a criminal report in June, with the investigation launched in September.
In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard — a former Member of the European Parliament and briefly defense minister under President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 — would be leaving her post as one of the institution’s deputy governors on December 5.
So what’s next for the corruption-tainted Goulard? Will she quietly ride off into the sunset of retirement? Why of course not – she will do what so many alleged criminals ends up doing: work for the government.
According to the Bank of France, Goulard Se wished to “return to the foreign ministry” where she started her civil service career.
“After five years as deputy governor of the Bank of France, Sylvie Goulard wished to join the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, which is her initial Ministry, to pursue her recognised European and international commitment,” the Bank of France said in a statement.
A source close to Goulard told AFP that her departure had “nothing to do with the investigation”, which of course is a lie.
“Neither Sylvie Goulard nor her lawyer were informed that the investigation had been reopened,” the source said. A previous probe in 2019 was closed the following year after no crime was found, case files seen by AFP showed, just like Christine Lagarde never faced any actual punishment even though she was convicted of “financial negligence.”
Anticor questioned in its complaint the work Goulard performed for the California-based Berggruen Institute think-tank.
She has acknowledged accepting 10,000 euros ($10,530 at current rates) per month working as a “special adviser” to the Council for the Future of Europe, an offshoot of Berggruen, between 2013 and 2016.
Goulard, who was also an MEP at the time, said her work had “no relation of any kind with the business activities” of the group’s founder, German-American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen. She said her role included “reflection, moderating groups, organizing meetings”.
The Berggruen Institute denied in 2019 that Goulard had been given a fake job, highlighting that she organised meetings in Brussels, Paris and Madrid.
Goulard has also been charged in a probe into suspected fake jobs among assistants to MEPs from the Democratic Movement, a small centrist party that supports Macron.
President Emmanuel Macron had tapped Goulard, a former member of the European Parliament, to be his defense minister after his 2017 election victory. However, she resigned barely a month into the job after an investigation was opened into the way her political party, MoDem, hired parliamentary assistants in the European parliament. She joined the Bank of France in January 2018 for a six year mandate.