Written by 17 h 08 min -Non classé-en, -Press release-en

Departure of William Bourdon


Departure of William BOURDON

Paris, November 17, 2019Sherpa announces the departure of William Bourdon from the Board of Directors. He remains Founding President of the association. 

A lawyer at the Paris Bar, he founded Sherpa in 2001, accompanying its development as President until 2017. For many years, he was Sherpa’s voice and brought his committed expertise and innovative vision to the fight against economic crimes around the world.

Under his presidency, emblematic strategic litigation cases were launched, setting unique precedents in French case law and enabling the French legislative framework to evolve in a sustainable way.

In particular, he initiated a complaint on behalf of Burmese refugees who alleged that they had been victims of forced labour at the Yadana site operated by TOTAL in Burma. A judicial investigation had been opened and following a long legal battle, a settlement was reached in November 2005. Under this unprecedented agreement, the complainants were compensated and the Burmese refugee communities in Thailand were provided with a €5 million fund.

As President of Sherpa, he filed a complaint in March 2007 against Teodoro NGUEMA OBIANG that opened the great legal saga of the ill-gotten gains. This procedure has contributed to the emergence of case law on the criminal admissibility of anticorruption associations. It has remarkably consolidated the jurisdiction of French courts with regard to money laundering committed in France but whose original offense was committed abroad. Teodoro NGUEMA OBIANG’s appeal trial is scheduled to begin in December, after he was sentenced on October 27, 2017 to three years’ suspended imprisonment and 175 million euros in confiscation of his property. In a near future, this procedure should set the legal framework for the restitution of assets to populations.

His involvement, his work and publications have contributed to decisive steps in the fight against impunity for multinationals. The indictment of executives and then the Lafarge company, the procedures for misleading advertising – Samsung and Auchan and for modern slavery Vinci in Qataris  are thus illustrative of the multiple strategic litigation cases showing the flaws in national and international law regarding the liability of economic actors throughout their value chain. These cases served as a laboratory to support the adoption in 2017 of the Law on the duty of vigilance which legally enshrines this responsibility for the first time and now serves as an example at the international level.

Sherpa keeps this pioneering and innovative spirit. The arrival of Franceline Lepany as President in 2017 had already opened a new era for Sherpa, characterized by the appointment of Sandra Cossart as a Director and the renewal of a large part of the team. This team, with the support of the Board of Directors, perpetuates and develops Sherpa’s vision initiated by William Bourdon.

Sherpa will continue to develop its international role and network and will rely on its resources and a strengthened team to build and promote a more protective legal framework for populations in the face of globalization. Sherpa will still be able to count on William Bourdon’s support in the implementation of this strategy, and we warmly thank him.


Last modified: 21 January 2020