Attali asked French for plush Paris flat

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

PARIS (AFP) - Jacques Attali, the head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, asked the French government to buy him a Paris flat worth more than pounds 580,000, Le Point magazine reported yesterday.

While the Socialist government agreed to pay, the neo-Gaullist government which took office last month refused, Le Point says.

Mr Attali, who served as a top adviser to President Francois Mitterrand, claimed his duties in London, the seat of the EBRD, made it 'essential' that he have a pied-a-terre in Paris, and asked the French foreign ministry for a grant, the magazine says.

'Roland Dumas, the last foreign minister in the Socialist government, signed a note agreeing to pay FFr5m (to Mr Attali), the money being drawn from France's contribution to the UN.'

The magazine's report on the apartment accompanied a longer article on the controversy surrounding Mr Attali's recent book Verbatim 1 - an account of his years with Mr Mitterrand.

It caused a stir when it was revealed that many lengthy passages in the book were presented as excerpts from conversations between Mr Attali and Mr Mitterrand. In fact, the excerpts were from talks between the President and the Nobel prizewinner Elie Wiesel.

Mr Wiesel said he had not authorised Mr Attali to publish records of the talks. Mr Attali has denied plagiarism.

Mr Attali has been under fire in Britain since a newspaper revealed that the EBRD had so far spent more on furnishing its London offices, executive travel, Christmas parties and the like than on reviving the economies of Eastern Europe - the reason the bank was created.