State & Corporate Crime

THE QATAR LEAKS : An Interview with Marc Eichinger

France has developed in the last 15 years a growing strategic alliance with the Emirate of Qatar [1-2], an alliance in which billions of petrodollars are recycled, safely invested, and tax-shielded into France. Qatar money has flooded the french economy since the early 2000s and has become one of the major foreign investors in the country acquiring sizeable stakes in basically all the major french corporations. In 2008 France signed a special agreement with Qatar that exempts Qatari investments in France from Capital gain taxes [3]. Qatar has also become a major purchaser of french made weaponry [4]. One could naturally have expected that such an intense relationship would become fertile ground for corruption and illegal lobbying.

In this article, we present an interview with Marc Eichinger, a french ex-intelligence officer who was the main source behind the so-called Qatar Leaks, a scandal that has rocked France since early 2021 [5]. A mass media blackout and cover-up has prevented the public at large from getting access to the facts of the case. Those documents, first published by french independent media Blast prove that several french personalities [6] and politicians received millions of euros to lobby for Qatari interests and that the French Ministry of Defense itself received 300 million euros to pay for the costs of the french participation in Operation Harmattan [7-8], codename for the french participation in the 2011 military intervention in Libya.

Some of the accused include the wife of french ex-prime minister Nicolas Sarkozy, Bernard Henry-Levy, famous french philosopher who lobbied strongly for french participation in the American-led Libyan war [9], a french secretary of state responsible for relations between the French government and the French National Assembly, etc…

We met with Marc Eichinger on a nice spring afternoon of 2021 in the heart of Paris. The former intelligence officer is not an easy man to catch. As diligent investigative journalists that we aim to be, we tried for weeks to contact him. We were looking for an interview with someone who could give us some real feedback on how to build an intelligence network. Our teachers were old by now and hadn’t been on the field since the nineties, which is not the case with Marc Eichinger. We were not expecting the kind of revelations he was about to share with us.

Dupont&Dupont (D&D) : You have been criticized for sharing information with other intelligence services, other than the DGSE (the French foreign intelligence office which is the french equivalent of the CIA). You have said you were tired of the fact that it (your efforts) never came to anything. What was the trigger ?

Marc Eichinger (M.E.) : In few words, efficiency. The DGSE does not have the same means as, for example, the FBI. They do not play in the same division. The FBI is composed of about 35,000 agents who have a demanding common training. What is the DGSE? about 7000 people? A competitive selection of Political-Science students? And the DGSE is not intended to disseminate information. For example: the “Qatar Leaks” are information of historical importance, the victims are counted in the tens of thousands in attacks on many countries (Israel, Syria, Libya) , and in the Sahel too… This must be known by people that have the means to destroy the financial circuitry of terrorism and this is not the case of the DGSE, unfortunately. When you see children die in the back of your car, you get sick of all this very quickly. 

D&D: By the way, why did the DGSE contact you in the first place?

M.E. : I started working for them because I had different abilities than others: I could do a financial analysis (Marc is a former trader, editor’s note) and hold a kalash (laughs). I also accepted living like a dog for months. For example, I have lived in an old Chinese construction shack for 3 months or in a ruined fortress in Kirkuk. You have to know how to live like your opponent, he is suffering from poverty, so learn to be hungry like him.

D&D: You said that economic intelligence does not exist, why? (In france « intelligence économique » do not refer directly to intelligence, editor’s note)

M.E. : Because it is intelligence and nothing else, a bad translation of English. I can tell you that if you are noticed in Jordania, which is a rather « cool »  country, accumulating information on companies, you are immediately arrested. Go and tell them « no, I do intelligence économique » (laughs). Besides, people don’t know the difference and that’s normal, if you go to « Centraf » (Central African Republic, editor’s note) you’ll become a kind of spook for everyone, even if you gather intelligence on bakeries!                                                

Especially since, in my experience, most private intelligence companies (PIC) are involved in corruption! « Business diplomacy »  in general, is unfortunately nothing but corruption ! I was once called by a British parliamentarian who had « forgotten » to declare an asset in Kazakhstan. I went through a PIC firm to « fix » the problem. Corruption can be tracked through some PIC without much difficulty in my opinion.

D&D: Is this poor definition symptomatic of a lack of recognition of Intelligence in France?

M.E. : Absolutely, it is symptomatic of this false modesty that exists in France, a lack of courage to say things. French Intelligence has a bad reputation, perhaps with good reason after all, but we should ask ourselves why. There is no recognition, that’s for sure! In Israel, they are like rockstars, they are called « princes », in France they are nothing at all. For sure, if it is to work for Bolloré, Dassault and not the State, who is really motivated ?

D&D: Why do you think French intelligence services are not at the same level of recognition?

M.E.: In France, there is an indecent lack of Intelligence culture and resources. Already at the highest level something is wrong! There is no willingness to be accountable to Parliament. Our Constitution allows the President to do whatever he wants in matters of Defense, there is no counter-power. In my opinion, the services end up not working for the taxpayer but for a man and his friends.

About French Intelligence, at the moment, the big trend is « cyber » : everybody wants to do it, but nobody does it. The French agencies are split up into several entities with ridiculous budgets. How can you do cyberdefense with such weak and divided means? The DRSD (military intelligence Agency) has 1,500 people and 15 million euros in operating expenses. In the Uramin affair (corruption case where high level officials were involved, another one revealed by Mr Eichinger, editor’s note), I saw a geologist from Areva get 14 millions, it’s ridiculous (laughs)! I have met some guys from the DRSD, they are competent people but what can they do with so little means? For the Geronimo operation, it’s a no-limit budget. In France they fight with bits and pieces. How can you blame them ?

And what can you do when you come out of a French Intelligence Agency ? For example, the British environment has its defaults, it’s a kind of aristocracy, a kind of « entre soi » , but there is a real recognition of the private sector. In France, what do the analysts do when they leave, what are their skills ? I know one who was the mistress of a decorated general who stay fifteen years in an office, never been on the field, almost incompetent and she is now a professeur in a so call Master degree in intelligence (laughs).

D&D : What level of economic maturity do you think we have in France compared to the Anglo-Saxons?

M.E.: The level of economic culture in France is laughable. I have the feeling that there is a real desire not to see things. Just one example: those who gloat about the sale of Rafales… when we sell Rafales to Egypt, there is a solvency problem: the Rafales sold are guaranteed by the French taxpayer (via the Treasury) and Egypt has a debt that is simply not repayable! Come on, we made a gift to Egypt, not a sale! And how much commission on that for the industrial sector who by the way pays political campaigns ?

D&D: Why do you think there is such a fragmentation of public anti-corruption and compliance entities in France?

M.E.: From my point of view, it is obviously deliberate: divide and conquer. To understand things properly, you need to know that, in France, a major financial case lasts between 10 and 15 years, sometimes even longer. The guy in charge changes jurisdiction well before that, they do not have the possibility to follow a case in its entirety. And it’s well known: to « rot » a case, the Chancellery (the Agency responsible for judges assignment) sends an insane number of other cases to the judge who is a bit too eager to look at them, to drown them.

A reform of the Justice system is needed.  The independence of Justice should be total! In France, if you are poor, you are finished! At least in the United States, even if it’s complicated, it’s possible to win a case because Justice is really independent: for example, the FBI can investigate a President in office, not in France.

D&D: Will the reorganization of the intelligence services come from the political world?

M.E.: Why are the French anti-corruption police services not centralized? It is simply absurd! From my point of view the problem is that politicians are corrupt, it pays very well for politics! I have indisputable proof that Qatar paid a French minister 260,000 euros, what a pity (ministers are almost the same as secretary of States, editor’s note) ! Also, why do we have more than 30 ministers ? There are 7 in Switzerland and it works very well. Belgium has survived very well without a government (laughs). Why do we have 577 MPs? In the United States, the entire Congress, i.e. both chambers, has a total of 535 members. That’s less than our Chamber of Deputies alone and it works very well! I think that seeing individuals like Benjamin Griveaux, who was a deputy, spokesman, candidate for mayor of Paris, who becomes a deputy again, makes people bitter. What was the use of this man? Similarly, Mr. Bayrou, who considers that 4000 euros per month is the salary of the middle class, what is he doing at the planning commission? Does France have a Soviet economy? Like our high commissioners, which company director earns 14,000 euros per month in France today?

D&D: Speaking of corruption, in your opinion, has « Françafrique » really disappeared? (Françafrique is how we call neo-colonialism in France, editor’s note)

M.E.: No, unfortunately, it is a catastrophe! Moreover, I understand the anti-French sentiment that is rising in Africa. For example, if I were Chadian, I would be angry. The president dies, it should be the Chadian constitution that prevails (so the interim should be assured by the president of the National Assembly) and France puts the son instead…

Another example, Niger brings in 916 S8 missiles that disappear. The leaders are hanging out with a mob family that owns 3 properties on Avenue Foch in Paris and no one is going to ask them to account for it, is this a joke? They hang out with the Al Zayn mafia in Berlin and nobody cares? Barkhane too, what are we doing there? Where is the money going? I have given proof of the numerous embezzlements of Areva funds, remember that the fake Imouraren mine was valued at up to 1.3 billion euros in Areva’s balance sheet. The reconstruction of a road was paid for by our taxes and never built. The new building for the Ministry of Mines started in 2014 cost us 10 million euros and we had to inform the financial brigade in Paris so that it would be finished in 2021. The American embassy built a much larger building for 2.3 million euros and in less than two years. It is the new headquarters of the Nigerian Security Agency. On one hand, there is rigorous diplomacy and on the other, corruption. The proof is the uranium gate, for which we are still waiting for a judgment! We have agents from DGSE, DRSD, DRM (French Intelligence Agencies, editor’s note) on the field and so many deaf mutes who never report anything to the Prosecutor, although they are obliged to do so, like all french servants. If the DGSE does not help the justice system to fight against criminals, what is it for?

D&D: The silence of the authorities is one thing, but how do you explain the silence of journalists, regarding the “Qatar Leaks” for example?

M.E.: It’s quite simple: fear of defamation lawsuit or perhaps also jealousy. They don’t have access to my sources. We should give them some time now that Bernard-Henri Levy’s lawsuit has been dismissed

It certainly has been dismissed [11]. The defamation lawsuit of the “so-called” philosopher [12-13] was dismissed by a french judge and consequently the Qatar leaks in which it appears that he was paid millions of dollars to lobby for french participation the Libyan war were authenticated. With more documents in the pipeline incriminating other high-profile french officials, like the former elected president Nicolas Sarkozy, the story is far from over.

When all is said and done, Marc Eichinger will already be climbing some mountain or far in some desert somewhere…carrying the truth on his back.

References :

[1] Qatar Investments worth $22 bn in France (Arabian Business, Sept 8th 2016)

[2] How Qatari Investments expand globally ( Politics Today, Sept 8th 2016)

[3] Special Report – In France, a tax free property empire (Reuters, Sept 8th 2013)

[4] Qatar’s massive increase in military power comes with political, logistical headaches (Breaking Defense, July 29th 2021) 

[5] Israël, Afghanistan, Qatar : révélations d’un homme qui en sait trop (Blast, Sept 20th 2021)

[6] Qatar connection : les documents qui visent Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, BHL et Laurent Platini (Blast, April 29th 2021)

[7] Qatar Connection : Quand la France et le Qatar programmaient la guerre en Libye (Blast, Nov 4th, 2021)

[7] The truth about the war in Libya and the responsibility of UN – Leaked documents from Qatar (Ekurd Daily, Nov 5th 2021)

[9] Justice : BHL débouté contre Blast (Blast, Sept 9th 2021)

[10] Qatar Connection : Jean-Marie Le Guen, un secrétaire d’État au service de l’Émir (Blast, Oct 21st 2021)

[11] Bernard-Henri Lévy’s defamation complaint against Blast media rejected by justice (GoodWordNews, Sept 22nd 2021)

[12] Bernard-Henry Levy’s dispactches from troubled lands (Washington Times, Nov 2nd 2021)

[13] Why Bernard-Henry Levy believes american lead internationalism is more needed than ever (Washington Post, Nov 10th 2021)

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