Former French PM Accused In Sarko Scandal

De Villepin will stand trial on false money- laundering accusation
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2008 9:19 AM CST
Nicolas Sarkozy, left, shakes hand with Dominique de Villepin after their meeting at the Hotel Matignon, the office of the prime minister in Paris, Tuesday, April 24, 2007.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
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(Newser) – Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin will face trial for his role in an alleged smear campaign against Nicolas Sarkozy, who outmaneuvered him for the presidency. The "Clearstream Affair" scandal dates to 2004, when an anonymous source sent a judge a list of politicians, including Sarkozy, said to be laundering bribes through a Luxembourg bank. But the list turned out to be bogus and a brouhaha erupted, the Guardian writes.

Investigators believe that de Villepin may have prodded an informant to turn over the fake documents; if convicted, he could face 5 years in jail. He has insisted he is innocent, and one ally of the former PM said that he was being treated like a "Soviet dissident." Other politicians have said that Sarkozy appears to be settling a score with de Villepin, who detested him when the two served together as ministers of Jacques Chirac.