Chirac linked to secret bank account

French investigating magistrates have acquired "explosive" documents suggesting that "large sums of money" were funnelled into a secret Japanese bank account in the name of Jacques Chirac, it was claimed yesterday.

 Chirac linked to secret bank account
French investigating magistrates have acquired "explosive" documents suggesting that "large sums of money" were funnelled into a secret Japanese bank account in the name of Jacques Chirac, it was claimed yesterday.

The judges have bank statements and more than a hundred notes written by a former French intelligence chief, Gen Philippe Rondot, on the subject, but were unable to consult them until Mr Chirac stepped down as president last week.

According to the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné, one of the dossiers bears the title "Japanese Affair," with two others called "Affair of PR1" and "Affair of PR2" - PR meaning president.

Such was the nature of the judges' findings that they held an emergency meeting on Monday and Tuesday and hauled in Gen Rondot for questioning on the alleged bank account, the magazine said.

The existence of such an account, into which £30 million had been paid over a number of years, was first mooted last May by Gen Rondot during questioning over a separate spy scandal.

Gen Rondot told judges that French intelligence agents had stumbled on the accounts at the Tokyo Sowa Bank in 1996 when investigating the financial credentials of a Japanese businessman and friend of Mr Chirac who wanted to invest in France.

Mr Chirac took the exceptional step of denying that he had a secret bank account.

Gen Rondot subsequently retracted the claim but the former spymaster was an obsessive note taker and the judges acquired his diaries.

The content of the dossiers has "convinced the judges of the existence of Chirac's Japanese bank account," a judge told the newspaper.

"Once the documents are verified, there is sufficient material to open a new investigation into abuse of trust and corruption," a judge told Le Canard.

The inquiry will focus on who paid sums into the account and how - if at all - Mr Chirac benefited from it.

Mr Chirac stands to lose his presidential immunity on June 16 - one month after leaving office. He could then be brought in for questioning. He is also expected to be interviewed as a witness or "assisted witness" - one step short of being under official investigation - concerning a party funding scandal during his time as mayor of Paris.

Mr Chirac's entourage is reportedly resigned to the fact that the judges will bring him in and perhaps place him under investigation.

Nicolas Sarkozy has denied reports that he had promised to protect Mr Chirac from prosecution in return for his support in the presidential elections.

Source:Telegraph
Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2007, 13:02
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