Hellfest boss receives eight-month suspended prison sentence for breach of trust

The head of the Hellfest festival, Ben Barbaud, was recently given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 20,000 euros for “breach of trust” according to the La Roche-sur-Yon prosecutor’s office. He would have “bought wine” and “works of art” with advances of money.

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The head of the Hellfest metal festival, Ben Barbaud in Clisson in Loire-Atlantique, in June 2022 (SERGE TENANI / HANS LUCAS)

The conviction dates back to April, but had not been made public until now. Ben Barbaud, boss of the metal festival Hellfest, received an eight-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 20,000 euros for “breach of trust”, AFP learned on Friday June 23 from the La Roche-sur-La Roche prosecutor’s office. Yon, confirming information from West France. According to the newspaper, Ben Barbaud was sentenced during an appearance procedure on prior recognition of guilt (CRPC), held behind closed doors on April 19 before the Vendée court.

“Ben Barbaud acknowledged the facts and undertook to reimburse the sums, the victims having to be reimbursed on the sale price of a property which had been seized“, said the public prosecutor of La Roche-sur-Yon, Emmanuelle Lepissier. Asked by AFP, Ben Barbaud and his lawyer had not reacted early Friday evening. “The cash advances subject of the procedure have been reimbursed in full. The case is now closed“, assures in a press release the organizing association of Hellfest, one of the biggest festivals in Europe to be dedicated to metal and its currents.

“Advances” of around 300,000 euros

The 2023 edition, which just ended last weekend in Clisson (Loire-Atlantique), attracted 240,000 spectators. A source within the festival said it was “advances“which were made irregularly from an accounting point of view but”without any intention of embezzlement“.

Ben Barbad”absolutely did not deny the facts“, added this source, according to which the sums in question are around 300,000 euros in total. According to Ouest France, Ben Barbaud “would have bought wine (…) but also works of art” thanks to these sums.

Creator of Hellfest, Ben Barbaud was also its president, but his conviction for breach of trust was accompanied by a “ban from presiding over an association for five years“, according to Emmanuelle Lepissier. Ben Barbaud left this function of president and now assumes the function of director of Hellfest. According to the press release of the festival, this “internal administrative restructuring took place several months ago now” And “allowed Hellfest to maintain its level of organizational excellence, as evidenced by the success of the 2023 edition“.

Justice “took such a decision to maintain the sustainability of the festival, by choosing an appropriate procedure guaranteeing justice and discretion for the parties“, concludes the association.

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