Friday

22nd Mar 2019

Scandal threatens Chirac's position at Nice

Just days before the EU summit at Nice, the French President Jacques Chirac were accused of being deeply involved in a multimillion franc corruption scandal. According to The Times and other European newspapers the allegations are bound to weaken Mr Chirac's position as head of the summit.

Mr Chirac was deemed to be in deep political trouble after Michel Roussin, 61, was jailed over the weekend on charges of running a kickback system when he was Mr. Chirac's closest aide during a decade before Mr. Chirac's election as president in 1995, writes International Herald Tribune.

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During those years, when Mr. Chirac was mayor of Paris, contractors reportedly paid 600 million francs ($80 million) in "gifts" in exchange for municipal construction contracts for high schools in the Paris area, according to published accounts of confessions by a political fund-raiser from his party.

According to International Herald Tribune Mr. Chirac's neo-Gaullist party reportedly got the biggest share, but payoffs also went to the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

The unofficial treasurer of Mr. Chirac's party, Louise-Yvonne Casetta, was acquitted on corruption charges last Tuesday, but she was rearrested at dawn the next day to face new charges, writes International Herald Tribune. This time she reportedly told investigators that 2 percent of all municipal contracts reached Mr. Roussin to be divided among political parties. According to her lawyer, Miss Casetta said that Mr. Chirac was "aware" of the payments, which came as gifts of 500,000 francs, an amount permitted under French law at the time, but not told that they were tied to contracts.

Mr. Chirac declined to comment on the allegations, insisting that he was preoccupied with winding up the institutional reform during France's six-month stint in the presidency of the EU.

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