Chirac faces investigation into 'misuse of public cash'

Jacques Chirac, the former French president, was accused yesterday of embezzling public funds. M. Chirac, who will be 76 next week, is the first former president to face criminal proceedings after leaving office.

He was placed under formal investigation for misusing Paris taxpayers' money to fund political allies and friends when he was mayor from 1977 to 1995.

Similar accusations are expected to follow in at least two other criminal investigations into the alleged, systematic pillaging of the town hall budget for political gain. It will probably be several years before any of these cases come to court.

If found guilty, M. Chirac could, in theory, go to prison. Previous court decisions in similar cases, and his advanced age, suggest he would be more likely to be given a stiff fine and a suspended sentence.

Since losing the immunity of presidential office six months ago, M. Chirac has become vulnerable to legal action in at least three investigations into the misuse of Parisian municipal cash while he was mayor.

In an article in Le Monde, yesterday, the former president denied that there was any conspiracy to use town hall money to fund his then political party, the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR), or to reward allies.

He admitted approving a series of disputed short-term job contracts – including a chauffeur for an RPR senator – but denied that the jobs were unjustified.

"Town hall resources were never used to further any ambition other than to serve Parisians," M. Chirac wrote. "There was never any suggestion of personal enrichment."

Nonetheless, the investigating magistrate, Xavière Simeoni, yesterday placed M. Chirac under investigation for "embezzlement of public funds". She questioned him for three hours. Further questioning is expected next month.

To be placed under investigation – or mis en examen – by an examining magistrate is one step short of a formal charge. The magistrate has to investigate all the facts of the case, both for and against the accused, before saying whether court action should follow.

Although the accusations against M. Chirac cover relatively small amounts of money, they are said to be part of a systematic use of public cash to fund his political party and his political career. There is no accusation of personal gain, except in one other investigation into flights taken by the Chirac family.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower