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Former French PM Villepin allegedly bagged €100,000 for ‘day’s work’

AFP

Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin returned for one day of work at the foreign ministry in order to qualify for a 100,000-euro retirement payoff, according to a British media report.

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After being off the job for 20 years, Villepin was allowed to return to diplomatic service last September in order to collect the sum, The Telegraph reported Tuesday, citing diplomatic sources.

Villepin, 60, served as a French diplomat from 1980 to 1993. He then took the job of secretary-general of the Elysée Palace under conservative ex-president Jacques Chirac, and later served as interior minister, foreign minister and finally prime minister.

A former member of the right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, he was mostly sidelined from politics after former president Nicolas Sarkozy came to power in 2007.

The Telegraph report said that the request to return to the foreign ministry for a single work day came from Villepin himself, but that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a Socialist, likely authorised it personally.

The news quickly grabbed headlines in France, where the Socialist government of François Hollande has raised taxes and cut back on spending in order to balance the country’s finances.

A spokesman for Villepin told the British daily that there had been an “administrative error which Mr Villepin has already asked to be rectified by the relevant authorities as soon as it was noticed”.

The foreign ministry declined to answer questions about Villepin’s unusual retirement windfall, the newspaper said.

Since taking a step back from politics, Villepin has been at the head of his own international consulting firm, which earned €1,676,900 last year, the report said.

French magazine L’Express valued his personal wealth at four million euros in 2012.

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