Corruption scandals in the Paris region

From Academic Kids

In the 1980s and 1990s there were in the Paris region (Île-de-France) multiple instances of alleged and proved political corruption cases, as well as cases of abuse of public money and resources. In most, members of the conservative Rally for the Republic (RPR) ruling party were involved, but some also involved members of the French Communist Party, French Socialist Party and the Union for French Democracy.

Contents

The central role of Jacques Chirac

Jacques Chirac was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995 and has been named in several cases of alleged corruption and abuse, some of which have already led to felony convictions.

Jacques Chirac, as current president of France, enjoys virtual immunity from prosecution for acts preceding his tenure as president, following from decision 98-408 DC (http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/decision/1998/98408/index.htm) of the Constitutional Council on January 22, 1999. This decision itself was highly controversial: the council was consulted on the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, not about the status of the president with respect to the national criminal justice system. At the time, the president of the council was Roland Dumas, who later had to retire from his functions because of his implication in the Elf Aquitaine scandal [1] (http://www.lexpress.fr/Express/Info/France/Dossier/dumas/dossier.asp?ida=420342).

Jacques Chirac refused to testify before investigating magistrate Éric Halphen, arguing that this would be incompatible with his presidential functions.

On October 10, 2001, the Court of Cassation ruled that, while the president cannot be prosecuted by normal judicial means during his mandate, such an impossibility suspends the delays of prescription (statute of limitation). If Jacques Chirac does not run for office again in 2007 or is not re-elected, he may then be prosecuted on the several affairs he is involved in. This might explain why in 2003 some in the presidential entourage floated around the idea of Chirac running for a third term.

The foremost critic of Jacques Chirac was deputy Arnaud Montebourg of the French Socialist Party, who filed a motion for bringing Chirac in front of the High Court of Justice (a procedure similar to impeachment, which has never been applied).

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Vote rigging in Paris

In several districts of Paris, people were allegedly illegally registered on the electoral rolls in an attempt to modify the outcome of elections. In some particularly egregious cases, people were registered at the address of a hotel or of a shop.

  • In the 3rd arrondissement, 859 (being 5% of the registered voters) were, according to enquiries, fraudulously registered on the electoral rolls between 1988 and 1995.[2] (http://www.humanite.presse.fr/journal/2000-05-31/2000-05-31-226153)
  • In the 5th arrondissement, mayor Jean Tiberi, his wife Xavière Tiberi and alleged accomplices were put under formal investigation. According to the instruction, 7,228 people were fraudulently registered in the 5th arrondissement in 1997 and 3,315 of them voted when Jean Tiberi was elected deputy with 2,725 votes more than his opponent. At the Paris research section of the gendarmerie there exists a large whiteboard pointing out the connections between the people allegedly involved; the most prominent names are "Chirac, Jacques" and "Tiberi, Jean". [3] (http://forums.transnationale.org/viewtopic.php?t=798) On March 21, 2005, Jean Tiberi was put under criminal investigation for his alleged role in the altered electoral rolls.[4] (http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3224,36-629826@51-627526,0.html) He denied having had anything to do with the action and pointed that he was re-elected by wide majorities, thus not needing fake voters.

Manipulated biddings for public procurement

Hauts de Seine housing projects

Charles Pasqua was allegedly involved in a kickback scheme for works on the public housing projects of the Hauts de Seine département.

Paris public housing projects

There was a shock when a videocassette of businessman Jean-Claude Méry was disclosed after his death. In this videocassette, Méry gives many details about the kickback schemes in the Paris region; in particular, he says that he delivered FRF 5 million in cash to Jacques Chirac. [5] (http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3224,36-356627,0.html)

Highschools and other works of the Île-de-France region

About 40 are under investigation for the alleged corruption at the Île-de-France regional council. [6] (http://forums.transnationale.org/viewtopic.php?t=1494) Enquiries showed that 2% of the payments from the Île-de-France council to companies involved in building or repairs on the region's highschools were to be channeled as kickbacks to political parties, either through legal contributions (permitted under the January 15, 1990 law then in force), either through cash deliveries of fictitious employment (i.e. staff of political parties or politicians being paid by the involved companies). According to the enquiry, 1.2% went to the RPR, 0.8% to the French Socialist Party. Michel Giraud, then president of the region, is one of the prime suspects.

The following companies admitted to such practices: Sicra, Baudin Châteauneuf, GTM, Bouygues, Nord-France, Dumez, Chagnaud, Fougerolles.

In March 2005, the case went to trial before the Paris correctional court.[7] (http://permanent.nouvelobs.com/societe/20050330.FAP4601.html?1916)[8] (http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3224,36-633173@51-629717,0.html)

Fictional jobs in government offices

City of Paris

During the tenure of Jacques Chirac as mayor of Paris, some people paid by the city government actually worked (full time) for the RPR party.

Alain Juppé, former secretary-general of the RPR (1988-1995) and former deputy mayor in charge of finances of the City of Paris (1983-1995) was prosecuted along with accomplices Louise-Yvonne Casetta and Patrick Stefanini. On January 31, 2004, Alain Juppé was sentenced by the correctional court of Nanterre to 18 month suspended sentence, as well as the deprivation of the right to vote for 5 years and the right to run for national office for 10 years (reduced on appeal to one year). On December 1, 2004, the Versailles court of appeals reduced the sentence to a 14 month suspended sentence and a deprivation of the right to hold political office for one year. Juppé announced did not go to the Court of Cassation over this sentence, and had to resign from his position as mayor of Bordeaux.

Another scandal erupted after the ruling when the judges of the Nanterre court alleged that their offices and computers had been searched. President Jacques Chirac ordered an administration enquiry commission, composed of high-level magistrates (the vice-president of the Council of State, and the first presidents of the Court of Cassation and the Court of Auditors), to investigate the matter. This decision was criticized because there was no legal nor constitutional basis for it: normally, questions of judicial honesty are handled by the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature (CSM), which (politely) protested Chirac's action. The Nanterre judges refused to be heard by the commission, arguing they should see the CSM. The commission concluded that there had been security lapses at the Nanterre court, but did not conclude to any actual wrongdoing. A criminal investigation has also been opened.

On December 3, 2004, the Court of Cassation ruled that a court of appeals had incorrectly ruled that some cases of employments or payments received from the City of Paris (under the Chirac and Tiberi administrations) for fictitious work felled under prescription (statute of limitations). The court announced that the cases were now referred to the Versailles Court of Appeals. The current administration of the City of Paris, led by Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë, had appealed the prescription ruling before the Court of Cassation. Among the suspects are the deputy of Paris Jean de Gaulle, former minister Robert Pandraud etc. [9] (http://news.tf1.fr/news/france/0,,3188872,00.html)

Essonne

Xavière Tiberi, the spouse of mayor of Paris Jean Tiberi, received FRF 200,000 (approx. 30,000) for a report on francophonie for the general council of the Essonne département. This 36-page report, possibly written after the payment as a justification, was extremely poorly written and contained numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes. [10] (http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3224,36-356627,0.html)

Illegal use of government services

Usage of City of Paris gardening services for private purposes

In 2004, mayor Bertrand Delanoë filed a complaint for the past abuse of City of Paris gardening services for private purposes, estimating the public losses to at least 700,000. Individuals close to the RPR allegedly enjoyed free gardening services from City of Paris employees in their houses of the upscale areas of Paris and suburbs. City supplies were allegedly also taken for private usage. (Le Canard Enchaîné, March 31, 2004).

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