Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Eve Ensler: 'In The Body Of The World'

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ed Husain, Author of 'The Islamist'

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put to the test

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put to the test (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

Pakistan: Imran Khan, from the cricket field to politics

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'iVIOLATED'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

France's Iliad considers fresh offer for T-Mobile

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Back to school!

Read more

  • NATO plans new 'spearhead' force to counter Russia

    Read more

  • French clubs left behind as others spend big

    Read more

  • Arab media strike back at IS Islamists – with cartoons

    Read more

  • US military targets Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group

    Read more

  • Boko Haram Islamists seize northeast Nigerian town

    Read more

  • Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao leaves Ligue 1 for Man Utd

    Read more

  • UN backs Iraqi request for inquiry into IS militant crimes

    Read more

  • French education ministry picture sparks racist abuse

    Read more

  • Obama calls for higher wages amid 'revving' US economy

    Read more

  • Video: Ukraine’s children return to school as fighting rages on

    Read more

  • Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

    Read more

  • US urges Israel to reverse West Bank land seizure

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM calls for regional peacekeeping force after ‘coup’

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Amerli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • French police arrest hungry hedgehog hunters

    Read more

France

African leaders gave Chirac, de Villepin 'millions' in cash

Video by Helen PERCIVAL , Olivia SALAZAR WINSPEAR

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-12

A former aide has alleged that former French president Jacques Chirac (right) and former premier Dominique de Villepin (left) received an estimated $20 million in cash from African leaders. The allegations come as Chirac stands trial for corruption.

AFP - African leaders gave French former president Jacques Chirac and possible presidential candidate Dominique de Villepin $20 million dollars in cash, including to finance elections, a lawyer said Monday.

Robert Bourgi said in an interview with Europe 1 radio the money came from several presidents of France's former African colonies, and was handed over by himself to the centre-right politicians in stages between 1995 and 2005.

Insisting he was coming forward now because he wanted a "clean France", Bourgi said the system of kickbacks had also existed under former presidents Georges Pompidou, Valerie Giscard d'Estaing and Francois Mitterrand.

He said he could not estimate how much had been handed over before he became directly involved, but could speak about the deliveries he said he had made to Chirac's office when he was mayor of Paris and later to Villepin.

"I'd estimate at around 20 million dollars what I handed to Mr Chirac and to Dominique de Villepin," he told Europe 1, fleshing out the detail of claims he had already made in a newspaper interview that appeared on Sunday.

The allegations, which were furiously denied by Chirac and Villepin, come just seven months before France's presidential election, in which President Nicolas Sarkozy could face a Villepin challenge from within the right.

Villepin, a suave diplomat best remembered for leading the charge against the Iraq war at the United Nations in 2003, has said the revelations are aimed at derailing his presidential bid.

Judges are this week to rule on Villepin's involvement in the Clearstream affair dating back to 2004 in which Villepin is accused of smearing his bitter rival Sarkozy.

Villepin was cleared of all charges in a first trial that ended last year, but the prosecutor appealed.

Bourgi catalogued what he said were lavish gifts bestowed by African leaders on the French politicians, including memorabilia to noted Napoleon Bonaparte fan Villepin.

"As president (Gabon's Omar) Bongo and African leaders knew he liked African art and that he admired the emperor," Villepin "received busts of the emperor, rare items to do with the emperor Napoleon and African masks," Bourgi told Europe 1.

"It would be good if they could be found again, two years ago I think Dominique de Villepin had a sale," he said.

On Sunday, Bourgi detailed other gifts, including a watch with 200 diamonds given to Chirac by Bongo.

"A splendid object but difficult to wear in France," Bourgi said.

Bourgi is widely reported to be close to Sarkozy, but insisted in the interview that he was neither an official nor unofficial advisor to the president, simply someone who was sometimes consulted for an opinion.

Chirac and Villepin have said they will lodge lawsuits against Bourgi, who described himself as "repentant" after having for years taken part in "the dark side of Francafrique" a French term describing the country's sometimes murky relations with its former colonies in Africa.

Bourgi told RFI radio that the practice of receiving briefcases full of cash had been going on for decades.

"Robert Bourgi has given French public opinion and the French political class on a plate what all journalists have been trying to find out for 25 years," the lawyer boasted, referring to himself in the third person.

Asked what African leaders got in exchange for their cash, Bourgi said: "Lies, lies, lies, unkept promises, meaning that France would close its eyes to certain abuses of power in Africa."

Bourgi admitted that he had no proof to back up his allegations, while a former minister from Sarkozy's UMP party, also a lawyer, said he was shocked by the revelations as they implicated Bourgi himself.

"I'm surprised because Mr Bourgi is seriously incriminating himself," Patrick Devedjian told LCI television.

"This is a kind of personal confession, he's asserted his role which implies his own penal responsibility. He will have to give a serious account to justice, beyond defamation."

"In all election campaigns, there's mudslinging in every direction," he said.
 

Date created : 2011-09-11

  • FRANCE

    Court examines evidence of Chirac's phantom payroll

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Chirac trial to continue in his absence, court rules

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Chirac 'unfit' to attend trial

    Read more

COMMENT(S)