December 21, 2021 – Hughes Hubbard Paris won an acquittal for Michel Moly, the former mayor of Collioure, France, in his trial over allegations of favoritism and misappropriation of public funds that supposedly took place near the end of his 25 years in office.

On Nov. 30, the Perpignan Criminal Court acquitted Moly, a key figure in local politics and mayor of Collioure from 1989 to 2014, as well as the three other defendants in the case. The charges came from an investigation by the Regional Chamber of Accounts (CRC) into Collioure’s public procurement contracts between 2011 and 2014.

The CRC investigation claimed to find a series of irregularities in the municipality’s use of a communications consulting agency, and in its award of an urban transport contract. Speaking to French public radio station France Bleu, Félix de Belloy, who led the defense, described the investigation as “botched, casual and even lazy.” “It is lamentable,” he added.

During the trial, which was held in October and addressed events from 2012 to 2014, HHR criticized the case as “incomplete and inadequate” and one based on an “erroneous accusation.” HHR also argued that the statute of limitations had expired for most of the facts underlying the allegations against Moly. The CRC’s errors and inaccuracies were discussed at length in court and, by the end of the hearing, the prosecutor’s office had partially conceded the validity of HHR’s critique.

“It's very difficult for him to live with,” de Belloy said of the 74-year-old Moly at trial. “He's a rugby player, he's combative and he wants his honor washed clean. But he remains overwhelmed by this injustice.”

Alongside France Bleu, the case was also covered in French daily newspaper L’Indépendant. The press coverage took a very different approach after the hearing, as the media acknowledged that Moly’s defense during the trial largely undermined the CRC’s conclusions and the prosecution’s case.

In addition to de Belloy, Laureen Bokanda-Masson defended Moly.