French police have fined dozens of people for parties in underground luxury venues in Paris. Previously, prosecutors denied claims that French ministers were also attending such events.
Authorities in Paris ended a gathering of more than 110 diners at an underground restaurant, defying coronavirus restrictions.
The incident came as investigators are probing underground dining soirees amid rumors that French ministers were also among the guests.
French police said on Twitter they were responding to “an excessive noise complaint about a restaurant” in Paris late Friday.
“Guests fined for failing to respect applicable health measures,” police said. They arrested the event organizer and the restaurant manager.
In recent weeks, local media have reported that several underground restaurants were hosting wealthy people for a pre-pandemic dining experience as France battles a rise of coronavirus infections.
Entry code needed for lunch in Saint-Ouen
In a separate incident, police handed another 62 people a €135 fine each for a lunch gathering in Saint-Ouen, just outside Paris.
Police said they also arrested the manager of that restaurant.
Businessmen and lawyers were among dozens who went to the underground restaurant via an entrance of a residence protected by a code, according to BFMTV.
Police had been investigating that restaurant for three weeks, BFMTV reported.
No ‘evidence’ of ministers attending parties
TV channel M6 had aired footage showing a party at a high-end venue. Attendees are not following social distancing rules or wearing masks.
Prosecutors say they aimed to identify the organizers and participants. And also determine whether the party was indeed held during lockdown.
Pierre-Jean Chalencon, a French businessman, collector and expert of the Napoleonic period, is implicated in the M6 report.
Chalencon claimed that his luxury Palais Vivienne venue in central Paris had organized several dinners that some ministers attended. His lawyers later told AFP news agency that he was “joking.”
“There is no evidence that indicates any members of the government took part in the dinners being investigated,” prosecutors were quoted as saying by AFP.