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The Clearstream affair - Trouble at the top in France

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The Clearstream affair - Trouble at the top in France


The Clearstream scandal is a story which has touched the highest level of the French state. Former prime minister Dominique de Villepin is suspected of conspiring to undermine the current president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy – who was finance minister at the time -was falsely named in the listings of the financial organisation Clearstream, based in Luxembourg.

A package containing those listings and other letters was sent anonymously to judge Rene van Ruymbeke in 2004. Several names on the list were accused of having taken bribes over the sale of two naval frigates to Taiwan in 1991. The judge showed that the documents had been forged.

Imad Lahoud is the man suspected of falsifying the listings. This software programmer is said to have been recruited in 2003 at the giant defence and aviation group EADS by his boss, the vice-president Jean-Louis Gergorin, a personal friend of Dominique de Villepin.

At the beginning of 2004, Gergorin is alleged to have asked Villepin – who was then foreign minister – to convene a meeting about the listings on January 9 with a former intelligence officer, General Philippe Rondot. Rondot was summoned to the inquiry and quickly made clear the doubts surrounding the integrity of the listings.

Rondot’s notes are said to confirm claims that Jean-Louis Gergorin was responsible for sending the anonymous dossier to the judge, working on the initiative of Dominique de Villepin. Gergorin confirmed that to the inquiry, saying Villepin was working on the orders of the then president, Jacques Chirac.

At the end of June 2007, the judges found previously unseen notes from the general, suggesting Villepin and Chirac were directly implicated in a scheme to derail Sarkozy’s campaign for the presidency.

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