Former aide says African leaders gave Chirac and Villepin cases of cash
A former aide to ex French president Jacques Chirac and his one-time prime minister Dominque de Villepin claims African leaders handed over briefcases full of cash to the two politicians to finance elections campaigns.
In an interview in France’s Journal de Dimanche newspaper, Robert Bourgi, a lawyer who advised Chirac and Villepin before switching loyalties to work with President Nicolas Sarkozy, said he took part in handing over several briefcases containing sums in excess of five million francs (750,000 euros) to Chirac in person when he was mayor of Paris in the 1980s and 1990s.
Bourgi recounts how five African leaders - Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade, Burkina Faso's Blaise Compaore, Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo, Congo-Brazzaville's Denis Sassou Nguesso and Gabon's Omar Bongo – came to Villepin’s office.
There, he claims, they handed over around 10 million dollars for the 2002 campaign.
Villepin has denied the accusations telling the newspaper “this is all just nonsense and smokescreens.”
Bourgi says that since he has started working for Sarkozy he no longer brings in cases of cash from Africa. But another former African advisor to Chirac, Michel de Bonnecourse, says Bourgi dropped off a large briefcase for Sarkozy when he was interior minister in 2007.
Chirac, 78, was last week excused from attending his corruption trial over alleged ghost jobs created during his time at city hall. His doctors said he was afflicted by memory lapses.
Judges will this week also rule on Villepin's involvement in the Clearstream affair dating back to 2004 in which Villepin is accused of smearing his bitter rival Sarkozy.