Former French Minister Le Drian denies links to Saudi defence industry

Former French Minister Le Drian denies links to Saudi defence industry
The veteran Defence minister said allegations he will work as an advisor to the Saudi defence ministry are "wrong".
2 min read
20 December, 2022
Le Drian served under presidents Emmanuel Macron and Francois Hollande [Getty images]

Veteran French politician Jean-Yves Le Drian has denied rumours on Monday that he has been headhunted to work as an adviser to the Saudi defence ministry

“I formally deny any rumours about my intention to work, in any capacity whatsoever, in the service of any defence industry whatsoever,” said Le Drian in a press release on Monday morning. 

The story, published by intelligence online, had claimed that the former defence minister of France “will become an adviser to the Saudi defence ministry” - but did not name individual sources. 

“It’s wrong,” said the long-serving politician, who served under both Emmanuel Macron and Francois Hollande. 

Although he admitted being approached by Scopa industries, Le Drian said: “the proposal was made to me, but I refused. (…) It’s not my subject, I want to live something else.” 

It is not clear whether Le Drian had always refused the offer, or was forced to resign after the story broke. 

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Le Drian was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the French state on November 24 having retired from frontline politics earlier in the year. 

As defence minister under Francois Hollande, Le Drian was responsible for the controversial deployment of French troops in Northern Mali as part of Operation Barkhane, as well as the French withdrawal from Afghanistan 

His encounters with Saudi Arabia were more frequent as minister for Europe and foreign affairs from 2017-2002, visiting the kingdom several times on diplomatic missions - even being received by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The defence industries of France and Saudi Arabia have been ever more tightly intertwined since Francois Hollande welcomed the Saudi defence minister in 2015 to discuss projects worth billions of euros as Riyadh tried to broaden its western ties beyond the United States. 

At the time, the Saudi defence minister was Crown Prince Mohammed.