The Advocate General requested a one-year prison sentence including six months suspended and a fine of 15,000 euros against Mr. Lombard and his former number 2 Louis-Pierre Wenès.
At first instance, they were sentenced in 2019 to one year’s imprisonment, including eight months suspended and a fine of 15,000 euros.
The defense of Mr. Lombard, who led the group from 2005 to 2010, insisted on the faults of the State in the management of France Telecom towards its privatization.
“I who am a defender of the State, for the first time I am going to criticize the State. You were wrong Mr. Advocate General to say that the State had no responsibility, it has a major responsibility . He could intervene, “said Me Jean Veil, weighing each word with his slow diction.
During 2006, the management of France Telecom, privatized two years earlier, had implemented a policy aimed at 22,000 departures and 10,000 transfers via two plans from 2007 to 2010, the period covered by the trial.
“The state, the more it sold its shares, the more it asked for dividends to keep the same amount of income, sitting on a stunted portfolio,” continues the lawyer.
“Do not create a case law that would be catastrophic because no one will want to be a leader of a large company”, insists Mr. Veil in concluding his argument.
According to the prosecution, Messrs. Lombard and Wenès “designed and implemented” a policy of “industrial, collective and methodical moral harassment”, by means of “prohibited methods”, which led to a “degradation of working conditions” of “thousands of employees”, some of whom committed suicide.
– “Totally unrealistic” –
Me François Esclatine, another adviser to Didier Lombard, regrets that his client is portrayed as a “captain of industry”, giving orders that others execute.
“So there is his cyclopean eye that sees everything and knows everything. It’s totally unrealistic,” explains Me Esclatine.
“Didier Lombard is only two or three days a week in France. That’s why there are delegations of power, which explain why everything does not go back to the president”, he adds, while acknowledging that his client could be blamed for “not having taken enough interest in HR”.
At the end of the defense arguments, MM. Lombard and Wenès made a final statement to the court. The former CEO of the group insisted on repeating all the emotion that “embraced” him while listening to the testimony of certain civil parties.
“I’ll be scarred for life,” he said, sobbing. “During the suspensions, I was able to discuss with certain civil parties. They are returning to normal life, I hope that as many people as possible can go down this path”.
Louis-Pierre Wenès, also very moved, is more bitter.
“After ten years, I’m still being called a cold, cynical, calculating man who throws his teams overboard. It’s just intolerable. I see no evidence to support such remarks”, he laments.
The decision was reserved for September 30 at 9 a.m.
Before adjourning the hearing, the president of the Court of Appeal, Pascaline Chamboncel-Saligue, wishes to warn the parties: “the decision which will be rendered will be based on the law and your positions are very opposed. There will necessarily be dissatisfaction on reading the judgment to come”.