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The BBC's Jamie Coomarasamy
"France's disgraced former foreign minister has gone on the counter-attack"
 real 28k

French Journalist, Anne-Elizabeth Moutet
"He has been let down by the system"
 real 28k

Monday, 18 June, 2001, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
French elite hit by sleaze claims
Roland Dumas
Roland Dumas: Says he has been made a scapegoat
The disgraced French former Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas, has accused ministers in the current government of involvement in a corruption scandal surrounding the former state-owned oil giant, Elf.

Dumas, who was found guilty on charges relating to the Elf scandal last month, said the current foreign and employment ministers were both implicated in a web of bribes.

He told Le Figaro newspaper he had been made a scapegoat for practices common under the late President Francois Mitterrand in the 1980s and 1990s for whom he served.

He said that justice had been selective and that many known cases of misconduct were deliberately not being investigated.

Leuna affair

The current Employment Minister, Elisabeth Guigou, and Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine were, according to Mr Dumas, party to illicit payments at the time made by Elf to the then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrat (CDU) party.

Hubert Vedrine
Hubert Vedrine: 'Astonished' by allegations
He claims Elf made illegal donations to the CDU in order to buy the Leuna oil refinery in East Germany after Mr Kohl made a personal appeal to then President Mitterrand and Prime Minister Balladur.

Dumas said that former Elf president Loik Le Floch-Prigent's version that he had discussed the Leuna affair with the president and that Mr Vedrine and Ms Guigou knew about it, "was certainly true".

"Mitterrand completely endorsed the project, perhaps including the payment of commissions, because he considered it useful for France," he said.

Dumas says he only found out about the affair after he left office.

Mr Vedrine, who at the time was a senior advisor to President Mitterrand, also says he only knew of the payments afterward.

He responded to the allegations angrily, saying they were "the reactions of a devastated man".

Ms Guigou, then minister for European affairs, rejected the accusations, saying: "Roland Dumas appears unable to accept the fact that this government chose not to intervene in judicial affairs".

Selective justice

Although Dumas' trial involved many prominent figures, including Le Floch-Prigent, his second-in-command, Alfred Sirven, and Dumas' mistress and former Elf employee, Christine Deviers-Joncour, it only touched on a small part of the Elf affair.

Elisabeth Guigou
Elisabeth Guigou: Dumas says she knew of payments
Dumas was sentenced to six months in prison for illegally receiving public funds through extravagant gifts which Deviers-Joncour lavished on him in an attempt to sway his opinion on important contracts.

But a far wider web of corruption is believed to have existed.

Dumas says the judiciary is being deliberately selective in its investigations.

"I have realised that the judiciary does not want to go right to the end of the road which leads to the truth. There is perhaps partly a wish to protect the higher interest of the country, but there is also perhaps a wish to protect those who are still in the driving seat," he said.

Taiwan

As well as accusing the ministers over the Leuna affair, he said he knew who had received payments from a contract to sell frigates to Taiwan.

He refused to name names, saying he wanted to watch how things developed, but said that those concerned knew that he knew.

He said that the President Mitterrand had been tricked into agreeing to payments to push through the contract when the contract had already been concluded.

"A batch of payments, which had no reason to exist, was added onto a contract which had already been closed, tricking my friends who gave the green light," he said.

Though Dumas has given one of the most frank accounts of the Elf affair so far, he hinted that he had even more to reveal.

"[Elf] was one of the cash-cows of the Republic. It served to maintain good relations with African heads of state and... irrigated certain networks and financed certain people. It was known. The system had been in place for a very long time."

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See also:

18 Jun 01 | Europe
French fallout nears government
06 Feb 01 | Europe
Elf king who fell from power
02 Mar 01 | Europe
Kohl charges dropped
17 Feb 00 | Europe
German sleaze: The story so far
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