Written by 18 h 24 min Corruption and embezzlement, Strategic litigation

Bribery of foreign public officials

Country: South Africa, Namibia, The Central African Republic

Company targeted: Areva


An overview of the facts and proceedings… 

In 2007, AREVA bought UraMin, a company holding operating licenses in South Africa, Namibia, and the Central African Republic, for an amount of 1.8 billion euros, in spite of the fact that it had been estimated between 600 and 800 million euros at the most. This purchase has proven disastrous for AREVA, in particular because the mines have never been exploited. Today, this group, the jewel of the French nuclear industry, is practically bankrupt, with
a deficit of 5 billion euros, and has been compelled to lay off thousands of people.


Legal basis … 

A civil party petition not only allows the association to have access to the case but moreover enables it to provide additional elements to the investigation. Sherpa thus strives to understand how suspicious transactions have managed to escape the attention of the group’s audit and compliance management, but also of all other intermediaries, such as the legal and fiscal advisers, or even the statutory auditors, whose should have been able to detect and alert the judicial authorities.


What Sherpa’s work has enabled … 

The AREVA affair raised the awareness of the general public and policy makers to the challenges of the fight against corruption, and demonstrated that a change of practices in international transactions and the fight against international corruption is necessary. Indeed, the bankruptcy of AREVA, a public company, has led to disastrous consequences for the employees and taxpayers, but also for investors, shareholders, and inevitably for the image of the French nation. This case therefore reveals the major challenges of the fight against corruption to the general public. In addition, the different state services involved in the approval and monitoring of AREVA’s projects seem
to have been neutralized. Consequently, it is crucial to shed light on the role and responsibilities of the different actors in this case.


Chronology of proceedings… 

2007 – Purchase of UraMin by AREVA.

2012 – A parliamentary inquiry on the management of the purchase of UraMin was opened and established «dysfunctions in the governance and decision-making process within the company».

February 2014 – The Court of Auditors notified the national financial prosecutor of the suspicion of the commission of criminal offenses. This latter opened a preliminary investigation into acts of «inaccurate or unfaithful presentation or publication of accounts», «dissemination of false or misleading information», «forgery and the use of false documents».

May 2015 – Two judicial inquiries were opened, including one for acts of bribery of foreign public officials.

June 2015 – Sherpa filed as a civil party in the corruption case.

Last modified: 17 December 2019