French prosecutors raid 2023 Rugby World Cup headquarters
Chief executive fired last month following a separate investigation into his his workplace conduct
French financial prosecutors have raided the headquarters of the 2023 Rugby World Cup organizing committee as part of an investigation into possible management irregularities, organizers said.
The searches took place after the French government asked this summer for an audit by France's top financial watchdog into possible wrongdoing at the committee, which was then headed by Claude Atcher.
The chief executive was fired last month following a separate investigation by French labour inspectors into his workplace conduct.
French financial prosecutors said they opened a preliminary investigation last month into charges of "favouritism, influence peddling, corruption and any other related offence relating to the management" of the organizing committee. The prosecutor's office confirmed the raid at the headquarters in Paris and added that searches took place at other locations.
France 2023 said in a statement that the searches were "a continuation of the mission of the General Inspectorate of Finances, mandated this summer by the government to verify the management of the organizing committee's entities." The committee said it would not make further comments.
The World Cup starts in 10 months in Paris.
In a separate corruption case also involving French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte, prosecutors have requested a two-year sentence, including one year in jail, for Atcher. He has been accused of embezzling tens of thousands of euros from the federation by using his close bond with Laporte.
A verdict is expected on Dec. 13, with Laporte also facing time in prison.
The organizing committee's board of directors has appointed Julien Collette — Atcher's former deputy general director — as a replacement for Atcher.