Chirac Faces Pilfering Probe

Ex-prez grilled for 3 hours about funds for friends, allies during years as mayor
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2007 3:12 PM CST
Former French President Jacques Chirac attends the funeral of former French prime minister Pierre Messmer, at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A French magistrate launched a probe yesterday into claims that former President Jacques Chirac skimmed funds while in office, the Independent reports. Chirac, who turns 76 next week, is accused of using tax money to back friends and allies during his reign as mayor from 1977 to 1995. More accusations are said to follow against Chirac, the first former president to face a criminal probe. 

Magistrate Xavière Simeoni interviewed him for three hours yesterday about claims that he has siphoned francs into the coffers of his own party, the now-defunct Rally for the Republic. Chirac admits to okaying controversial contracts, but claims all were legal—and insists he never lined his own pockets. "Town hall resources were never used to further any ambition other than to serve Parisians," he wrote.