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France's Chirac faces another inquiry

Former French President Jacques Chirac is called in by a judge over more allegations that he used public funds while mayor of Paris to pay political allies for jobs that didn't exist.

December 20, 2009|By Gaelle Faure
  • Former French President Jacques Chirac is suspected of fraud while mayor of Paris.
Former French President Jacques Chirac is suspected of fraud while mayor… (Francois Mori / Associated…)

Reporting from Paris — Former French President Jacques Chirac has been hit with a second investigation of allegations that he used public funds while he was mayor of Paris to pay political allies for jobs that didn't exist.

The former president, who lost his constitutional immunity when he left office in 2007, already has been ordered to stand trial in a separate investigation of the allegations.

After he was questioned by an investigative judge Friday, the former president's office said in a statement that he responded two years ago to questions about seven allegedly fake jobs and that no new elements had emerged since then.

"The judge could have sent Jacques Chirac a letter, but instead he called him in, and didn't even question him. I think it's just somewhat unhealthy curiosity," Chirac's lawyer, Jean Veil, said Saturday.

There have been failed attempts to merge the parallel cases, which are being conducted by judges in the cities of Paris and of Nanterre, on the outskirts of the capital. Chirac's lawyer says this double whammy was caused by technical intricacies of the French legal system, but that the two cases are nearly identical.

"The difference simply lies that in the Paris case, they consider the employees were at the service of Chirac, while in the Nanterre case, they consider they were at the service of Chirac's party," Veil said.

During trials of former associates, which led to the conviction of former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, among others, it was alleged that Paris City Hall, headed by Chirac from 1977 to 1995, created a system to provide unjustified salaries to party allies.

The former president said in a statement Friday that "no 'system' ever existed in Paris City Hall."

In the wake of the conviction of his former colleagues in 2004, Chirac's party reimbursed the city of Paris more than $1 million for the salaries in question.

Faure is a special correspondent.

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