The integrity of Pizzorno Environment Group is questioned over its involvement in a corruption case in Tunisia during the regime of outsted president, Ben Ali. The Commission of Investigation on Corruption and Embezzlement (CICE), filed a complaint against the French company and its advisor and shareholder, Francois Leotard.
In 2009, an international investment proposal was launched by the Ministry of Environment and the National Agency of Waste Management(NAWM). Pizzorno Environment Group’s (PEG) board-shareholder, Francois Leotard, was chosen to operate a landfill in Jebel Shekir, (within the Greater Tunis area) - a 5 year process that began on March 1st, 2009 under a renewable once contract.
The report released by CICE, stated that: “It appears that F. L. used his authority and his personal relations with Tunisian officials to influence the course of the market, thus giving an unfair advantage to Pizzorno/Sovatram detrimental to the interests of the Tunisian state.” The initials FL were identified as those of Francois Leotard, who held posts, in the Ministries of Culture and Defense, during the mandates of François Mitterrand.
In an interview conducted on Monday, December 12th, with ”Var Matin”, Jean-Paul Llavador, General Secretary of Pizzorno, said he was very surprised by this accusation, claiming that “everything is transparent in this case.” According to Llavardor, Pizzorno is preparing a joint response with their partner the AMSE in the event that an investigation is opened.
“We will defend ourselves. To our knowledge, this market is not subject to any irregularity, ” said Llavador. Concerning the role played by Leotard, Pizzorno’s General Secretary explains that, “Francois Leotard is one of our directors, it’s not a secret. In light of his position as a director, and given his great relationship in Africa, he was doing his part by lobbying for the group as a part of this market. This is not illegal. This is a practice done by all companies. ”
Barely two years after the project started, a revolution occured in Tunisia resulting in the establishment of CICE, which recently issued its report. This report focuses on several companies and individuals, Tunisian and foreign, in particular PEG. This commission of inquiry was established to identify all cases of alleged corruption for the benefit of Ben Ali’s clan. According to a 500-page document, unveiled by the CICE, no less than 320 cases of alleged corruption were discovered, and were categorized as the, “most flagrant and substantiated.”
Pizzorno Environnement is a French group, founded in 1974. It specializes in three departments, namely waste processing, cleanliness (urban and coastal), and water sanitation.