Five former Ubisoft executives have reportedly been detained for questioning by French authorities, years after they departed from the company amid widespread sexual assault allegations.
According to a report from France’s Libération newspaper (as translated by GamesIndustry.biz), this week’s arrests by the Bobigny public prosecutor’s office include Ubisoft’s former chief creative officer Serge Hascoët and ex-VP of editorial and creative services, Tommy François. Hascoët resigned from the company in July 2020, while Francois left less than a month later. A year after those departures, French labor union Solidaires Informatique worked with two of the alleged victims to file a formal complaint about the alleged assaults, which seems to have led to this week’s move by French police.
It’s not immediately clear who else has been caught up in this week’s police actions or whether the former executives will be released from detention after questioning. Other high-profile Ubisoft employees who resigned or were fired amid the 2020 allegations include Assassin’s Creed Valhalla director Ashraf Ismail, former Ubisoft Canada managing director Yannis Mallat; former Ubisoft PR director Stone Chin; former Ubisoft global head of HR Cécile Cornet, and former Ubisoft vice president of editorial Maxime Beland.
Allegations of toxic workplace behavior against multiple Ubisoft employees started on Twitter and were later expanded upon in wide-ranging reports from Liberation, Kotaku, and Bloomberg. The reports detail multiple instances of inappropriate verbal and physical conduct from numerous employees, including one worker who was reportedly choked at a 2014 party by Beland.
Before his departure, Hascoët had served at Ubisoft for 32 years, rising to become the effective right-hand man to CEO Yves Guillemot. Hascoët’s approval was reportedly necessary for almost every project at the company, and his input helped shape numerous games from the publisher.
Guillemot committed to “major changes” in a 2020 earnings call following the initial allegations, including an internal investigation, overhauled HR policies, and a full reorganization of the editorial department. “Our overriding aim is ensuring that all Ubisoft employees have a safe and inclusive workplace environment,” he said at the time.
A year later, though, a report by French newspaper Le Télégramme cited multiple employees in saying that changes inside the company had been minimal. The company answered that report with a blog post laying out “appropriate actions, including training, disciplinary sanctions, and dismissals.”