Ex-France Télécom chief Lombard convicted but with reduced sentence on appeal

Didier Lombard, the former president and CEO of Orange/France Télécom, has been sentenced to one year in prison, suspended, on appeal for his role in the human resources scandal that engulfed the company in the 2000s.

Didier Lombard (By MEDEF – originally posted to Flickr as Didier Lombard, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Paris Court of Appeal reduced Lombard’s sentence from one year in prison with eight months suspended, to which he was sentenced in December 2019.

Lomdard was also fined €15,000, the same amount from the earlier judgement.

Lombard’s deputy at the time of the scandal, Louis-Pierre Wenès, was also sentenced to one year suspended and a €15,000 fine.

Lombard and Wenès were found guilty of having a pre-eminent role in the creation of a toxic culture at France Télecom amid the implementation of a restructuring programme that followed from the company’s privatisation in 2004.

The restructuring saw the departure of 22,000 employees and the transfer of some 10,000 to other roles.

It was accompanied by a wave of suicides of employees amid allegations of an institutional campaign of bullying and harassment intended, in part, to drive employees out of the company.

Lomdard and Wenès had continued to deny responsibility before the court for the wave of suicides and attempted suicides among employees, with their lawyers seeking an acquittal.

Former HR director Olivier Barberot, who had been sentenced to one year in prison including eight months suspended and a fine of €15,000, did not appeal the original sentence.

Orange itself was also fined €75,000, the first company of its size to receive a sentence of this type.

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