Test for Chirac's clean credentials

As France went on holiday for the Ascension Day weekend, magistrates announced two new corruption investigations. One concerns the head of one of France's biggest businesses, the Compagnie Generale des Eaux; the other a former Paris official and long-time associate of President Jacques Chirac.

Both cases are politically sensitive and the decision to proceed with them has been connected with statements by Mr Chirac and his Justice Minister, Jacques Toubon, who took office a week ago. Mr Chirac pledged to uphold the independence of the judiciary. Mr Toubon promised never to use his position to halt judicial investigations and said journalists should have free rein to publish details of corruption in high places. The two cases just opened could sorely test those intentions.

The Paris case centres on Georges Perol, who retired two years ago as head of the capital's public housing.

He is an influential member of Mr Chirac's RPR party, mayor of a town, Meymac, in Mr Chirac's country fiefdom in the Correze, and was appointed to his Paris post in 1982, when Mr Chirac was mayor. They are regarded as friends.

The investigation concerns false accounting that allegedly allowed tens of millions of francs in city receipts to be siphoned off to RPR funds in the central regions of Limousin and Auvergne.

The case has similarities with the recent false-accounting case in which Henri Emmanuelli, current head and former treasurer of the Socialist Party, was found guilty of complicity, and illustrates how political appointees were able - some would say expected - to use their administrative positions to benefit their parties.

The sensitivity of the Perol case arises not just from the Chirac connection but because Mr Chirac was occupying a Paris flat bought by a housing association with help from the council, and because Mr Perol's office was nominally supervised by Jean Tiberi, who has just become Mayor of Paris in succession to Mr Chirac.

Magistrates this week also made known their intention to continue investigations into another potentially difficult case, concerning financing of the centre- right Republican Party. The case, which seemed stalled during the presidential campaign, is believed to implicate the new Economy Minister, Alain Mad- elin, who was secretary of the party in the late Eighties.

The other new investigation case concerns Guy Dejouany, chief executive of Compagnie Generale des Eaux, who has been questioned in connection with the awarding of a contract to supply water to St Denis, in the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion. Around 30 other people are also under investigation in connection with the case. Mr Dejouany becomes the latest head of a large French company to come under investigation for corruption. Two executives of the Alcatel telecommunications company have been suspended from their posts in connection with a separate case involving over-billing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Engineers / Senior Electronics Engineers

£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project