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French rugby chief Laporte questioned over alleged tax fraud

French police on Tuesday detained for questioning rugby federation president Bernard Laporte as part of an investigation into suspected tax fraud, financial prosecutors said.

The most recent investigation dates back to August 2020.

Tuesday’s incident comes as the almost 2,000 French rugby clubs are voting on whether to accept Laporte’s appointed interim president Patrick Buisson, with the results expected on Thursday

“He was summoned for questioning by tax authorities, he went there with a lawyer specialising in tax,” one of Laporte’s lawyers, Jean-Pierre Versini-Campinchi, told AFP.

“It is perfectly scandalous that the prosecutors have chosen the date of Patrick Buisson’s election for the questioning and that the disclosure of this questioning was made on the same day,” he added.

Former France head coach Laporte, who has been in office since 2016, was found guilty on December 13 of five of the six offences for which he was prosecuted, including corruption and favouritism. 

Laporte received a two-year suspended prison sentence.

He was also banned from holding any rugby post for two years, but this is suspended pending his appeal.

In the wake of his conviction, Laporte stepped down from his role as vice-chairman of the sport’s global governing body, World Rugby, pending a review by its ethics officer.

The Rugby World Cup, the sport’s global showpiece event, kicks off in Paris on September 8.

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