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A start-up proposes to appoint Jean-Baptiste Djebbari as administrator while he is still minister

The Minister Delegate for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari is offered a position on the board of directors of a manufacturer of hydrogen cars. The HATVP does not tick, but issues “reservations”.

Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, in Aussonne, September 28, 2021, during the National Meetings of Public Transport, (RNTP). © AFP / Frederic Scheiber

Jean-Baptiste Djebbari was still transport minister when Hopium’s Twitter account published a press release on Monday morning: “The Hopium Board of Directors proposes the appointment of Mr. Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate for Transport, as a director.” The start-up, specialist in hydrogen cars, must still wait “the approval of the next general assembly of Hopium, on June 20, 2022”.

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No unlawful taking of interest

Seized on January 31, 2022, the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP) examined whether a risk of conflict of interest could exist, and whether this new function was compatible after the three years spent as a member of the Government.

In his opinion, issued in March but published on Monday, the case does not raise any possible illegal taking of interest during the three years spent by the former minister in government: “In the state of the information available to the High Authority, the risk of illegal taking of interests can be ruled out, subject to the sovereign assessment of the criminal judge.” The HATVP adds: “Under these conditions and in the state of the information available to the High Authority, there is nothing to cast doubt on the way in which Mr Djebbari exercised his functions with regard to this company.”

On Twitter, during his mandate, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari praised hydrogen several times.
On Twitter, during his mandate, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari praised hydrogen several times. /Twitter

The HATVP oversees the future functions of Jean-Baptiste Djebbari. He will have to respect some rules with Hopium and will not be able to address “members of the Government who were at the same time as him, for a period of three years” but also “members of his cabinet and those of the ministers successively responsible for ecological transition, as long as they still hold public office.”

On his Twitter account, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari has repeatedly mentioned hydrogen cars. He visited twice when he was Minister Delegate for Transport at Hopium, in June and September 2021. “He also met several other operators in the hydrogen mobility sector and, more generally, ‘clean’ mobility”specifies the High Authority. “Furthermore, the Hopium company did not benefit from any public subsidies.”

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Hydrogen, a market still in its infancy

Founded in 2019 by racing driver Olivier Lombard, Hopium specializes in building high-end hydrogen cars. If this announcement was made before the announcement of the new government, the office of the Minister Delegate for Transport explains to AFP, “because it is a legal obligation for listed companies, 35 days before the general meeting” shareholders.

This company, whose headquarters are located close to the Elysée, raised 16 million euros in September 2021 to develop. Its objective is to find another 100 million euros this year, to market hydrogen cars, a market still in its infancy. The first car was unveiled in June 2021. “The luxury machine will display 500 horsepower, 1,000 kilometers of autonomy in a single tank of hydrogen and will cost 120,000 euros” wrote Le Monde.

The Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire and his colleague from the Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili, on whom Jean-Baptiste Djebbari depends, announced in September 2020 a plan of seven billion euros over ten years to develop hydrogen on a large scale. , in order to make industry and transport “cleaner”. During his government years, the former airline pilot completed an MBA at the Executive Master of l’X, a highly prized diploma for training future leaders.

Mayor LR of Chalon-sur-Saône and vice-president of the Republicans protests the timing of this announcement : “Macronie Republic of lobbies.“The trade unionist candidate for the presidential election Anasse Kazib criticizes this announcement on Twitter : “Here’s how to make your address book profitable for more sorrel. They come to break our jobs and then afterwards they will take advantage of their network.” The Nupes legislative candidate, close to La France insoumise Thomas Portespoint : “The Macronie Republic of lobbies.”

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