Police searches at Areva and Lauvergeon

About ten searches have been carried out this Monday June 3, at Areva company’s headquarters in the process of investigations on the 2007 “gold” purchasing of the Canadian Mining Company, UraMin by the French nuclear Giant. Another search was operated at Anne Lauvergion and other high-ranked employees.

It is a “pre-report” of the “Accounts Court” that triggered the opening of preliminary investigation on this case about “presenting or publishing the inexact and unfaithful accounts”, “spreading wrong and untrue information”.

In 2006, Areva planned to buy UraMin. The French Nuclear Giant had just lost the big contracts with China, and its head, Anne Lauvergion, considered as socialist, was about to gain the space with Nicolas Sarckozi winning the presidential elections. “Atomic Anne” as they called her, wanted results “here and now”. She reactivated the buying of UraMin owned by a Canadian company. Registered in the Virgin Islands, a tax-free land, UraMin had never produced uranium; but owned several deposits including Trekkopje in Namibia and Bakouma in the Central Africa Republic, CAR. Anne Lauvergeon had promised that these deposits would produce more than 90.000 tons of uranium; and with no technical problem in the exploitation at all.

For 1. 8 billion of Euros

Not only was the worth of the Namibian deposit overestimated, they had to build a desalinization factory with a cost of $ 200 million to be able to do any exploitation. And on the CAR side, the mine is situated at about 900 km North-East of Bangui and requires big investments and infrastructures. And in spite of all this information, Areva decided to buy UraMin, at shares eight times higher than their initial prices, finally reaching the huge amount of 1.8 billion euros. The buying of UraMin was finally signed after Nicolas Sarckozys election. Some months later, it was with a most joyful Anne Lauvergion that the new French president made his first visit to China.

Today the lawyer of Anne Lauvergion says that the searching/investigations are regular events. For Jean-Pierre Versini Campinchi, they are classic legal procedures within financial fields.

Objectives of the investigators

The objectives of the preliminary investigation are to understand why Areva purchased the UraMin at this too-high price. On Tuesday, it was all the Areva responsible employees who were searched and questioned by the police. All the high-ranked ones, who were involved in the buying process! The police officers of the financial unit went, surely, to the headquarters of Areva and to the home of Anne Lauvergion, the former boss of the group; and they did not forget to go to her best friend, Sebastien Montessus. Sebastien Montessus in not an unknown figure. He was brought to court for having spied on Anne Lauvergion and her entourage. Here, he wanted to know, by incorrect means, if his friend [the husband] Olivier Fric, was the beneficiary of the miraculous buying of UraMin. For now, the acquiring of UraMin does not seem to have been in fraud practices. Instead, it was an ill-judgment that led to a total financial disaster.

Although in total embarrassment, Anne Lauvergion continues to defend her achievements.

Translated by Golden Misabiko

Sources:

[RFI: Rachat d'Uramin: la police perquisitionne chez Areva et Lauvergeon]

[Reuters: Areva office, former staff's homes searched in UraMin probe]