She originally set the date for September 7 on the day of the hearing, June 22.

If the prescription were confirmed, as advocated by the Advocate General, this would lead to the extinction of the proceedings against this pillar of Macronie, forced to leave his short-lived portfolio of Minister for Territorial Cohesion when the revelation of the case in the Canard Enchaîné in 2017.

Mr. Ferrand is suspected of having favored his companion, the lawyer Sandrine Doucen, when he was general manager of the Mutuelles de Bretagne (1998-2012), allowing him to acquire real estate.

According to the investigation, Ms. Doucen acquired premises in 2011 for 375,000 euros, via a bank loan, after the promise of their rental for nine years by the Mutuelles de Bretagne, the annual rent of 42,000 euros making it possible to finance the operation.

The premises had also been renovated by this non-profit organization for around 250,000 euros.

The sales agreement had at the time been signed by Richard Ferrand as a representative of his companion. The latter then set up an SCI to finalize the purchase.

A judicial investigation was opened in 2017, after a complaint from the anti-corruption association Anticor.

The former fourth character of the State had been indicted by three Lille investigating judges in 2019 for illegal taking of interest and Ms. Doucen placed under the more favorable status of assisted witness.

Seized by Mr. Ferrand’s lawyers, the investigation chamber of the Douai Court of Appeal had considered in March 2021 the facts prescribed since 2014 or 2015, i.e. three years after the signing of the lease or after the resignation of Mr. Ferrand of Mutuals. In both cases, before they are reported to justice.

– “Move along, there’s nothing to see” –

But Anticor, which appealed in cassation, challenges this decision: the association believes that the limitation period begins when the facts are revealed in 2017, because they were concealed. It considers that the relationship between Mr. Ferrand and Mrs. Doucen was not known to all the administrators of Mutuelles de Bretagne.

“Getting a prescription is not the same thing as getting a dismissal or a release, which means moving around, there’s nothing to do,” points out one of Anticor’s lawyers, Claire Waquet.

“If the judgment finds the prescription, it can be considered that it puts an end to the procedure” but “the investigating judge can try to ask himself if there is not something which is not prescribed” in the file, she adds.

The Advocate General estimated at the hearing that no “positive element” tended to show that the couple “deliberately sought to conceal” their relationship and the terms of the operation.

“There was no cover-up,” insisted AFP Emmanuel Piwnica, Mr. Ferrand’s lawyer. “Board members knew about it.”

The Court of Cassation must also decide on the appeal, filed this time by Richard Ferrand, arguing that the proceedings are null and void on the grounds that the Paris court was not territorially competent. The investigating chamber rejected this request.

A first complaint from Anticor was dismissed by the Brest prosecutor in October 2017. The association then filed this second complaint, with civil action, at the financial center in Paris.

The case had been disoriented in Lille, a Parisian magistrate, vice-president of Anticor, having been temporarily present in the procedure.

Former socialist deputy, Richard Ferrand, 60, was one of the first supporters of Emmanuel Macron, whose party he structured. Despite the case, he was elected to the roost in the fall of 2018.

In the last legislative elections, he lost the 6th constituency of Finistère, beaten by a candidate Nupes.