By Hend Hassassi | Dec 13 2011Commission of Investigation on Corruption and Embezzlement , Francois Leotard , Jean-Paul Llavador , Jebel Shekir , Pizzorno
The integrity of Pizzorno Environment Group is questioned over its involvement in a corruption case in Tunisia duringÂ the regime of outsted president, Ben Ali. The CommissionÂ ofÂ Investigation on Corruption and Embezzlement (CICE), filed a complaint against the French company and its advisorÂ and shareholder,Â Francois Leotard.
In 2009, anÂ international investment proposal was launchedÂ by the MinistryÂ of Environment and the NationalÂ AgencyÂ of Waste Management(NAWM).Â PizzornoÂ Environment Group’s (PEG)Â board-shareholder, Francois Leotard,Â was chosenÂ to operateÂ a landfill inÂ JebelÂ Shekir, (within the GreaterÂ Tunis area) -Â a 5 year process thatÂ beganÂ onÂ March 1st, 2009Â under a renewable once contract.
The report released by CICE, stated that: “It appears thatÂ F.Â L.Â used hisÂ authority and his personal relations withÂ Tunisian officialsÂ to influence the courseÂ of the market,Â thus giving an unfair advantage to Â Pizzorno/SovatramÂ detrimental to theÂ interests of the Tunisian state.â€ Â The initialsÂ FLÂ were identified asÂ those ofÂ Francois Leotard,Â who heldÂ posts, in the Ministries of Culture andÂ Defense,Â during theÂ mandates ofÂ FranÃ§oisÂ Mitterrand.
InÂ an interview conducted on Monday, December 12th,Â withÂ ”VarÂ Matin”,Â Jean-PaulÂ Llavador, General Secretary ofÂ Pizzorno, said he wasÂ very surprised byÂ this accusation,Â claiming that “everything is transparentÂ in this case.” According to Llavardor, Pizzorno is preparing a joint responseÂ with their partnerÂ theÂ AMSE inÂ the event thatÂ anÂ investigationÂ is opened.
“We will defend ourselves. To our knowledge, this marketÂ is not subjectÂ to any irregularity,Â ”Â saidÂ Â Llavador.Â Concerning the role playedÂ by Leotard, Pizzornoâ€™s General Secretary explains that, “Francois LeotardÂ is one of ourÂ directors,Â it’s not a secret.Â In light of his position as a director, and givenÂ his greatÂ relationshipÂ in Africa,Â he wasÂ doing his part byÂ lobbyingÂ for the groupÂ as a partÂ of this market.Â This is notÂ illegal. This is a practice done byÂ all companies. ”
BarelyÂ twoÂ years afterÂ the project started, a revolutionÂ occured inÂ Tunisia resulting inÂ the establishmentÂ ofÂ CICE, which recentlyÂ issued its report. This reportÂ focuses onÂ several companies andÂ individuals, Tunisian and foreign, in particular PEG. ThisÂ commissionÂ of inquiryÂ wasÂ establishedÂ to identifyÂ all cases of alleged corruptionÂ for the benefitÂ ofÂ Ben Aliâ€™sÂ clan.Â According to aÂ 500-page document,Â unveiledÂ by the CICE, no less than 320 cases of alleged corruption were discovered, andÂ were categorized as the, “mostÂ flagrantÂ andÂ substantiated.”
Pizzorno Environnement is a French group, founded inÂ 1974. It specializes in three departments, namelyÂ waste processing, cleanlinessÂ (urban andÂ coastal), and water sanitation.