Third day of the trial in which the forty-year-old couple at the head of the Limougeaude company and fourteen of their employees must appear for organized gang fraud, misleading and, even more seriously, aggressive business practices. For UFC-Que Choisir, it is rare to see such commercial aggressiveness.
After hearing from Pascal Barage (official commercial director of SAS BTPA renovation, but in reality also de facto manager of this company despite being banned from exercising this position), that of his partner, Angéline Ducly, (president and manager of said company), since Tuesday it has been the turn of the fourteen other defendants employed by the company to take the stand. They are directors, facilitators or salespeople of agencies, all of whom have been referred to criminal courts for organized gang fraud and aggressive and deceptive commercial maneuvers.
They must explain the company’s shameful and cynical business practices. Evidence, the videos that employees made themselves with their mobile phones when they met their customersbut of course without their knowledge.
Disgust is felt as these videos are projected in the room. During one of these interviews, still on hidden camera, an older man sits at his dining room table talking confidentially to the salesperson, who has been having a friendly, even intimate conversation with the customer: “VAre you a grandfather? Yes ? Ah, that’s good, you were married then… Not divorced? Oh, and you weren’t looking for anyone?
And the final answer is barely obtained, the one who is filming shoves the contract and a pencil under the poor man’s hand “Everythingez, a little signature for you here sir, it’s for the work we’ve done, we’ll be back to deal with the capillary rise, you’ll have a healthy home.. This is followed by the checkbook and writing a check for more than €5,000.
So far, more than a hundred clients have filed civil proceedings, others are still reporting, we will know the exact number at the end of this week.
During the investigation, almost 230 of these people declared themselves victims through a complaint letter, and all customers were contacted by researchers. Most of these people have not been heard in person. A remarkable difference, even though many upstream have not even declared themselves victims, according to the lawyer of the federation UFC-Que Choisir.
This case is atypical in terms of the number and profile of the victims; many have not even reported. Some people have unfortunately died since then, others are ashamed because they allowed themselves to be abused or have lost confidence, even in the justice system.Magali Buttard – Cabinet Macchetto, lawyer at the Paris Bar
The UFC-Que Choisir Federation is itself a civil party “damage to the collective interests of consumers” and demands damages of €250,000.
The lawyer of the Périgord couple who run the renovation company BDPA, in turn, also recalls the satisfaction of the customers.
1,390 customers were identified in the purchase orders during the company’s operation, between its creation in 2018 and its liquidation in January 2023. We should therefore not forget that many were satisfied with the work done by this association.Antony Zborala, lawyer at the Limoges Bar.
At the helm, the employees who are prosecuted for organized gang fraud and misleading and aggressive practices follow one another.
A team leader, mother of four children, answers sharp questions from the chairman of the criminal court. She takes the case of a couple who signed as many as eight purchase orders, for astronomical amounts, namely:
- More than €17,000 worth of work on March 14, 2022
- More than €15,000 worth of work on April 19, 2022
- More than €20,000 worth of work on April 20, 2022 (insulation)
- More than €11,000 worth of work on June 21, 2022 (drying terrace)
- More than €14,000 worth of work on 09.12.2022
- More than €08,000 worth of work on September 15, 2022
- More than €15,000 worth of work on June 22, 2022 (thermite traps)
- More than €24,000 worth of work on September 13, 2022
With her questions, the president tries to describe the established theatrical staging among the clients. She questions the employee: “and you don’t feel like you’re abusing these people? Answer: “II met them several times, I did not have the impression that they seemed in a state of weakness, well, of course, I am not proud, but I was under such influence of Pascal Barage.“
The prosecutor intervenes: “VAre you saying that you are afraid of Pascal Barage and at the same time you entrust your children to them after school?” The employee’s voice tightens: “because I had a good relationship with Angéline Ducly, the difference between our daughters was six months, it was when I stayed late at work… But it was at the beginning, when I started, because soon I couldn’t cope it no more, I wanted to leave’. “So why didn’t you leave?” asks the prosecutor, who recalls that the coercion to be maintained must be irresistible and not derived from the person’s choice: ““Since my husband was on sick leave, we couldn’t have done it with just one paycheck, so I told myself I would grit my teeth until my husband returned to work.” So it was your choice, the prosecutor concludes.
His other colleague, an agency director, a portly fifty-year-old, admits: ‘MeI regret everything we did, I don’t understand how I did it, I’m sorry, it’s not my nature, but Pascal Barage threatened to close the agency and throw everyone out if I don’t take up the position of director would take me, and then I am an electrician, so for my wife and my daughters it was a promotion with a good salary, I showed them that I was capable… But he called me all the names, even wanted to punch me in the face , you I can’t imagine, we can’t not do what he asks of us!”
The President continues:Do you think it is normal to go to the bank with a person in a wheelchair?” The man confides: “No, of course, but those were Mr. Barage’s techniques.’ “Why do you continue if you think this is a vulnerable and isolated person?” “Pbecause it was the company’s policy, it had become a game, it’s shameful, I don’t say the opposite.”
The plaintiff emphasizes and argues that only the compensation for these employees was important. Another salesperson remembers the pressure being there. Paid by a fixed minimum wage, he could only hope for a commission if a figure of €20,000 was reached. They all talk about constant reprimands and insults.
On Thursday, the couple who run the company BDPA Rénovation will be heard again after everyone’s statements. The first oral arguments of the civil parties will begin in the afternoon. Indictment is expected on Monday.