More big oil company payoffs to political leaders.

Discussion in 'Free Speech Alley' started by Ellis Hugh, Apr 3, 2003.

  1. Ellis Hugh

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    Aug 9, 2001
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    Ex-French Oil Exec Links Money to Chirac
    Mon Mar 31,12:33 PM ET

    By PIERRE-ANTOINE SOUCHARD, Associated Press Writer

    PARIS - The former president of Elf Aquitaine testified Monday that the French oil giant paid about $5 million to French political parties during his leadership — including to President Jacques Chirac's former party.

    Loik Le Floch-Prigent said nearly all the money went to Chirac's former party until then-President Francois Mitterrand, a Socialist, demanded the cash be spread to both sides of the political spectrum. Chirac, a conservative, succeeded Mitterrand as president in 1995.

    "We absolutely needed French politicians who supported us," Le Floch-Prigent testified. "There were politicians who didn't want to favor Elf ... We had to keep them quiet, to have them on our side."

    Chirac's office had no immediate comment on Monday's testimony.

    Le Floch-Prigent was Elf's president from 1989 to 1993. He is one of 37 former top officials on trial over allegations that Elf, once France's largest company, paid and received enormous commissions and used inflated bills and other devices to enrich a chosen few.

    Le Floch-Prigent testified March 19 that leaders of African nations where Elf did business were among the beneficiaries of lucrative commissions.

    Le Floch-Prigent faces myriad charges, including abuse of company funds, publication of false information and presentation of inaccurate accounts.

    During his leadership, the state-run company allegedly misused more than $145 million in public funds. Elf was privatized in 1994 and taken over in 1999 by TotalFina, making it a French-Belgian concern.

    Le Floch-Prigent's testimony was certain to rattle France's political elite. Chirac's office had no immediate comment on the testimony.

    Le Floch-Prigent testified that, under his leadership, Elf paid parties in the political right, including Chirac's Rally for the Republic, and left. The funds were skimmed off commissions paid on oil deals, he said.

    A previous corruption case that centered on Elf, one of the world's largest oil companies, ended in January. Le Floch-Prigent is serving a 30-month jail term from that trial and faces five years in prison if convicted this time.

    Le Floch-Prigent said the man once known within Elf as "Mr. Africa," Andre Tarallo, took care of parties on the right, while Alfred Sirven, the former No. 2 man, handled the left.

    Tarallo and Sirven are among the top defendants in the case. Sirven fled France but was arrested in the Philippines in 2001 and received a three-year sentence in the earlier trial.

    Le Floch-Prigent was first jailed for questioning in the case in 1996, when he headed the state-run train authority, the SNCF.

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