Phoney jobs inquiry extends to Juppe

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FRANCE'S FORMER prime minister, Alain Juppe, is under formal investigation over his role in an affair where fictitious jobs were created on the Paris city payroll for members of his conservative RPR party.

Patrick Desmure, the judge presiding over the investigation, informed Mr Juppe, who is now deputy mayor of Bordeaux, of his decision last Friday, though judicial sources only confirmed it yesterday.

The judge is investigating a system under which workers on the city hall payroll were actually working for the Rally for the Republic party, which Jacques Chirac founded before he became President and on which Mr Juppe served as secretary general.

At the time, Mr Juppe was deputy in charge of Finances for Paris's city council under Mr Chirac, then the mayor of Paris.

Should there be sufficient evidence, Mr Juppe will be charged with abuse of power. He was due to appear on French television to discuss the accusations last night.

Michel Roussin, the former RPR Minister for Aid and Co-operation and former director of Mr Chirac's city council, is also under investigation. The two former ministers are among five RPR leaders being examined, although no date has been set to see the judge.

Last May, a former director of general administration for Paris stated that 200 fictitious positions were given to RPR members in the 1980s.