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Sat 2 May 2015 01:00 AM

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French prosecutor said to launch Qatar worker abuses probe

Preliminary investigation has reportedly started into allegations that Vinci mistreated workers in Gulf state

French prosecutor said to launch Qatar worker abuses probe
(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

A French prosecutor has reportedly opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that construction company Vinci mistreated migrant workers in Qatar.

Vinci has denied the charges.

Vinci’s Qatar subsidiary QDVC has contracts worth 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in Qatar and is working on projects related to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Activist group Sherpa said that it has been informed of the investigation by the prosecutor’s office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. Sherpa filed a legal complaint against France-based Vinci last month, accusing the company of driving workers into forced labour.

By deciding that Sherpa’s allegations warrant investigation, French prosecutors could increase pressure to improve conditions for guest workers in Qatar.

Last month, the French construction giant vigorously denied allegations and said it would sue the human rights group Sherpa over its claims.

"Vinci absolutely denies the claims made by Sherpa. The group respects local labour laws and fundamental rights in Qatar as well as in all the countries where it operates," a Vinci spokesman said.

"In Qatar, each QDVC collaborator has free access to his passport while work and rest times are strictly respected," the spokesman said.

Allegations of forced labour in Qatar come up frequently.

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