Lawyer: France’s Chirac Took Illegal Cash from West African Leaders

Posted September 12th, 2011 at 9:00 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A lawyer has accused embattled former French president Jacques Chirac and ex-prime minister Dominique de Villepin of receiving millions in illegal cash from West African leaders.

In interviews with French media on Sunday and Monday, attorney Robert Bourgi said he personally delivered $20 million in cash to the French politicians between 1995 and 2005.

Bourgi said he received the money from the leaders of Burkina Faso, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Senegal. In return, the attorney claimed, France promised to “close its eyes” to abuses of power in Africa.

Mr. Chirac is currently being tried on charges he embezzled funds while he was mayor of Paris between 1977 and 1995.

Attorneys for Mr. Chirac and Mr. Villepin denied Bourgi's accusations. Chirac's attorney threatened to file a defamation lawsuit and Mr. Villepin questioned the timing of the allegations.

A French appeals court is expected to rule this week on a case claiming Mr. Villepin led a smear campaign against current President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2004. A court cleared Mr. Villepin of the charges last year, but prosecutors appealed the decision.

Mr. Villepin is said to be considering a presidential bid against Mr. Sarkozy.