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Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 23:59 GMT
Attali questioned over arms scandal
Jacques Attali
Mr Attali: Latest suspect in arms probe
A top aide to the late French President, Francois Mitterrand, has been placed under formal investigation in an inquiry into illegal arms sales to Angola.

Jacques Attali was picked up by police on Wednesday night and questioned by judges on Thursday.

Jacques Attali and Jean-Christophe Mitterrand in Cameroon
Attali and Mitterrand in Africa in 1983
Mr Attali, 56, is formally suspected of influence peddling and misuse of company funds.

''These accusations are without foundation,'' his lawyer, Jean-Michel Darrois, said.

Mr Attali is the latest in a string of senior French officials from the Mitterrand era to come under investigation for alleged corruption.

Unfolding scandals

Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, the son of the late president, has already been questioned about his alleged role in the sale of $500m in arms to Angola in the early 1990s.


These accusations are without foundation

Mr Attali's lawyer
In December, magistrates investigating the arms scandal searched Mr Attali's home and questioned him about his relationship with French businessman, Pierre Falcone.

Judicial sources said the magistrates were focusing on a payment of 1.5m francs ($213,000) from Mr Falcone to a consulting company belonging to Mr Attali.

Mr Attali said the money was used to finance studies on setting up a microcredit scheme in Angola, according to the sources.

Close aide

Mr Mitterrand has admitted receiving $1.8m from Mr Falcone, a sum he says was payment for an intergovernmental oil deal.

Jean-Christophe Mitterrand
Jean-Christophe Mitterrand denies wrongdoing
Mr Attali, the first head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), was released on bail of more than 1m francs.

He served for 10 years as a close aide to President Mitterrand.

He resigned from the EBRD's top post in 1993 amid charges of lavish spending.

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See also:

12 Jan 01 | Europe
Mitterrand son declares innocence
22 Dec 00 | Europe
How France's 'Mr Africa' operated
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