French business chief grilled over right-wing funds

PARIS (REUTER) - The head of Cie de Saint-Gobain, one of France's leading industrial companies, was placed under judicial investigation yesterday in a case involving suspected illicit funding of a conservative political party.

A spokesman for the company said Jean-Louis Beffa, who has chaired the 300-year-old glass and building materials firm since 1986, was questioned at his office by an examining magistrate, joining a string of top businessmen who have recently become embroiled in unrelated cases.

The spokesman said justice officials had also searched the company's head office in Paris's La Defense business district. Mr Beffa, a dynamic 54-year-old who speaks out often on economic issues, was not in custody, he said. Investigation can be, but very often is not, followed by charges.

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