Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

  • Israel hits targets in Gaza despite diplomatic efforts for ceasefire

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv over Israel-Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Conflicting rulings by two US courts cast shadow on future of Obamacare

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

France

French billionaire senator Dassault loses immunity over graft claims

© JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-12

The French Senate stripped billionaire industrialist senator Serge Dassault of parliamentary immunity on Wednesday, clearing the way for him to face possible criminal charges for allegedly buying votes.

The decision by a Senate committee means that UMP senator Dassault, 88, can be taken into custody for interrogation by judges investigating allegations dating from his 14 years as mayor of Corbeil-Essonnes, a Paris suburb.

The judges suspect Dassault of operating an extensive system of vote-buying that influenced the outcome of three mayoral elections in Corbeil in 2008, 2009 and 2010, which were won either by Dassault or by his successor and close associate Jean-Pierre Bechter, the current mayor of Corbeil.

Dassault is ranked by Forbes magazine as France’s 4th richest man and the 69th richest in the world, with an estimated fortune of 13 billion euros. He heads Dassault Group, which owns France’s prestigious conservative newspaper “Le Figaro” and holds a majority stake in Dassault Aviation, which makes business and military aircraft including the Rafale fighter jet.

Senator Dassault announced earlier this week that he had requested the lifting of his own immunity. This followed public criticism of the Senate’s earlier refusals to do so.

A bloc of communist senators and their allies called the move “a first step towards transparency”.

“This decision is not a judicial decision and does not presume the guilt of the parliamentarian in question,” the bloc said in a press release. “It’s about allowing the judicial system to do its work independently and respecting the republican principle of separation of powers.”

Controversy

The result of the 2008 vote, won by Dassault, was invalidated by the Council of State after the body which oversees public administration discovered a series of payments that could have influenced the outcome of the election.

That ruling did not require the same burden of proof as a criminal prosecution for vote-buying would, but formal charges against Dassault seemed likely.

Bechter has already been charged, as has Cristela de Oliveira, a former official in the mayor’s office accused of allocating council flats to families in return for backing Dassault or Bechter.

Dassault, who had been mayor of the formerly Communist-run municipality from 1995, has admitted using his vast personal fortune to help many individuals and organisations in the town but denies that any payouts were made in return for guaranteed support at the ballot box.

Media reports

The vote-buying investigation has been linked—by the media but not publicly by the judges—to two shootings that took place in Corbeil last year and are being investigated as attempted murders.

The case has also triggered allegations of attempted extortion and intimidation, both by and against Dassault.

Two men who claim to have been paid hundreds of thousands of euros by Dassault to help organise the alleged vote-buying have told the media of a well-oiled electoral machine that targeted poorer families from immigrant backgrounds.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

Date created : 2014-02-12

  • FRANCE - CORRUPTION

    French billionaire Senator Dassault ‘paid for votes’

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Dassault face tough road to close India fighter contract

    Read more

  • BUSINESS

    France's Dassault wins $12bn Indian fighter-jet deal

    Read more

COMMENT(S)