Christophe Ferrari is being investigated for suspected illegal use of his service car

The public prosecutor’s office in Grenoble ordered the opening of a preliminary investigation for “embezzlement of property from a person in charge of a public service mission”. The investigations relate to allegations of irregularities committed by the metro’s president, Christophe Ferrari.

Service car used during periods of leave, personal lunches at the expense of the local community… The case sent to the court by a former close friend of the president of Grenoble-Alpes Métropole contains a long list of documents. Electronic toll statements, reports, exchange of emails, all point to possible irregularities committed by Christophe Ferrari (various left).

Starting with his chauffeured service car, which he would have used for personal purposes, apart from his duties as chairman of the capital’s executive board. “I reproduced, day by day, the President’s movements thanks to the electronic toll statements, which I compared with his diary. It was here that I heard about journeys made during his vacation, when he had nothing to do with his service vehicle.”says Pascal Harder, the former chief of staff to Christophe Ferrari.

For several months, he collected elements demonstrating the practice that the president of the Grenoble metropolis considered abusive. A file – the first elements of which date back to 2014 – which he sent to the court on 16 September.

Grenoble’s prosecutor’s office indicated to France 3 Alpes, on Wednesday, October 5, that it had opened a preliminary investigation for “embezzlement of property by a person who is a depository or responsible for a public service mission”, confirms information from the newspaper The postillion.

The investigations carried out by Grenoble’s judicial police primarily concern the alleged personal use of Christophe Ferrari’s official vehicle. The overtime statements of the driver of the President of the Metro testify to this. Sometimes 42 hours, 59 and even up to 85 overtime hours in a month.

“These readings questionsays Pascal Harder. There were regular schedules that couldn’t be explained.” Especially night hours that exceed “almost always” the legal limit of 25 hours of overtime per month. As a result, the driver receives a remuneration “significantly higher” than any other agent of the metropolis, according to the former chief of staff.

In addition to these alleged excesses during the week, Christophe Ferrari is said to have used his service vehicle on numerous occasions at weekends or during periods of leave. His car is not geolocated – unlike other service cars in the city – the file is based on electronic toll statements and fuel bills.

The total tolls for the capital president’s personal trips would amount to more than 2 400 euros, according to the calculations of Pascal Harder. “Thanks to my expertise, I can distinguish the President’s personal trips from those made within the scope of his mandate”says the former chief of staff who was previously in charge of the president’s agenda.

I realize that abuse of company cars is frequent, but it is not normal.

Pascal Harder, former chief of staff to Christophe Ferrari

in France 3 Alps

The same statements highlight trips to Toulouse, Dordogne or Montpellier, well outside the metropolitan area. Fines have even reached the headquarters of the metropolis for offenses committed in Italy with the president’s vehicle.

A first, dated September 2017, amounts to 102 euros for “access to the pedestrian street”. The second, a €450 fine dating back to January 2019, punishes “non-designation of the driver”. Fines that Christophe Ferrari himself would have paid.

It is “while the president was on leave”, in April 2021, that he would have been in an accident with his service car. The bill is 2 577 euros, paid by Metroen’s insurance, with 600 euros in excess at the community’s expense.

“I am aware that misuse of service cars is frequent, but that’s not normal.”, recognize Pascal Harder, who relies on other elements. The former chief of staff has since the end of 2020 listed restaurant bills reimbursed by the metropolis to Christophe Ferrari, while these lunches and dinners “not related to the interests of society”. The total score is 2 284 euros.

This report against Christophe Ferrari is not the first. Yann Mongaburu, close to Grenoble’s ecologist mayor Eric Piolle and great rival to Christophe Ferrari for the presidency of the metropolis during the last election, had filed a similar report in December 2021.

This concerned the year 2018, already for irregular use of the presidential service car. The public prosecutor’s office in Grenoble had then not opened a criminal case due to a lack of sufficient evidence. “It was a unique fact that was condemned without justification in a context of strong political tensions”explains the prosecutor in Grenoble, Eric Vaillant, who had then heard the two interested parties.

But it was while Pascal Harder was preparing for the hearing of Christophe Ferrari as part of this investigation, at the beginning of the year, that he discovered the first elements “disturbing” on the use of his company car. Elements that will agglomerate over time until they are transferred to the parquet floor a few months later.

“Why is this money, the driver’s salary, the maintenance of the vehicle, invested for personal purposes? It should have been invested elsewhere”judges the former chief of staff who claims not to have “no political affiliation”.

“Embezzlement of property from a person who holds or is responsible for a public service task” is punishable ten years in prison and a fine of one million euros. According to our information, the group of Eric Piolle in the metropolis will ask for the resignation of the president in the coming days. Contacted by France 3 Alpes, Christophe Ferrari’s office said a press release would be sent “shortly”.

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