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France – Partouche in the clear over Casino 3.14 scandal

By - 10 July 2019

The investigation at the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Marseille has ruled that French casino operator Groupe Partouche has no case to answer following allegations of malpractice at the Casino 3.14 in Cannes.

The court ruled a general dismissal in the case of alleged concealment of poker wagers affecting the Partouche property.
The two leaders indicted for misuse of corporate property in March 2018 have benefited from a non-general order ordered by the investigating judge of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Marseille, Fabrice Naudé.

He said: “There are no sufficient charges against the directors of the Cannes Center Croisette SAS, itself owned by the Groupe Partouche SA, which operates the Casino 3.14 gaming establishment in Cannes, for having committed the offense of misuse of corporate assets for which they were indicted on March 12, 2018.

According to the order of non-suit, the Omaha poker games that were the subject of the investigation “were not the framework of misappropriation of funds made to the detriment of the casino concerned”, and that they had “generated a considerable gross game revenue for the benefit of both the operating company and the state.’ In four months of operation, the GGR made in Cannes by Omaha Poker accounted for 75 per cent of the national figure of this game.

Placed under judicial control and banned from managing the establishment in March 2018, the President and the Director General of 3-14 had been indicted and released following the payment of a deposit of €30,000. The order states that neither of them have “been personally, directly or indirectly, interested in the organisation and operation of these games.”
Two players had also been indicted for complicity and concealment of misuse of corporate assets, while also being placed under judicial control. These four people benefited from the dismissal for ‘insufficiency of charges.’

The judicial investigation established that parts of poker “were not the framework of diversions of funds carried out to the detriment of the establishment of games concerned.’

“Finally, there is no more serious or consistent evidence and thus sufficient charges against anyone, from committing the offenses of participation in the organized gang to the holding of a gambling house and laundering organized gangs. , also object of the seizing of the jurisdiction of instruction “, the judicial document stated.

Groupe Partouche’s share price had plummeted by 20 per cent following the arrests. Throughout the investigation, the group claimed to be ‘in compliance with the law and especially in the area of gambling regulation and the fight against money laundering”, declaring itself to be “affected by a media hype incommensurate with the first results of the procedure.’

Fabrice Paire, CEO of the Partouche Group, slammed ‘the extravagance of this whole affair.’

“What the SCCJ has done is scandalous,” he said. “The investigation carried out audits that concluded that no amount had been diverted to the detriment of the casino, the players or the Treasury. Yet the media gave very strong coverage to this case. The primary consequence of this inappropriate and disproportionate communication was, for the Groupe Partouche, the loss of more than 20 per cent of its value on the market, in the 48 hours that followed. Groupe Partouche has therefore filed a complaint for breach of the secrecy of the investigation and the investigation and for defamation. We have demonstrated, on one hand, that the organisation of the tables of Omaha Poker, the only game concerned by the investigation, fully complied with all regulations and, on the other hand, that the casino had always been in compliance with its tax obligations.”

Mr. Paire added: “It is with great satisfaction that Groupe Partouche sees this procedure come to an end, following the requisitions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, by a non-suit order. The leaders of the casino 3.14 are thus definitely out of the question. The decision may bring moral satisfaction to the company, although it is obviously not enough to offset the impact that this case has had on Groupe Partouche’s reputation, nor to restore the stock market value destroyed. We have asked again and again for a single regulating authority, so that casinos are no longer under the yoke of people who stand to make anything.”

The future National Gambling Authority under the PACTE Act, according to the draft order sent to the European Commission, does not, however, inherit police powers from the Ministry of the Interior, which would continue to have jurisdiction over casinos in France.

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