January 29, 2004

WHICH CORRUPTION SCANDAL? Take your pick. Jeremy Slater has a look at the Parmalat scandal, often called “Europe’s Enron,” and notes that it has punctured a lot of Euro-smugness of the “it can’t happen here” variety. Then there’s the French frigate scandal:

Illegal payments linked to a French defense deal with Taiwan signed in 1991 have placed the French government at risk of being ordered to repay up to $600 million in murky commissions, according to a report published on Wednesday.
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The deal, involving the sale of six high-tech French frigates to Taiwan, has already linked senior statesmen in both countries with a still-unraveling tale of corruption.

Here’s more from (ironically, these days) the BBC, which observes:

It has been one of France’s biggest political and financial scandals of the last generation.

It has left a trail of eight unexplained deaths, nearly half a billion dollars in missing cash and troubling allegations of government complicity. . . .

A government order banning judicial access to key documents for reasons of state security has twice been renewed, most recently in June last year.

As a result, a criminal inquiry launched in 1997 remains stalled.

But the suspicions continue to grow: who has what to fear from the truth? Why, when the Taiwanese Government is doing all it can to uncover what happened, does France stubbornly refuse to do the same?

I can’t imagine. Of course, all of this is peanuts compared to the reports that Saddam bribed Chirac.

UPDATE: On the Chirac story, reader Augustin Naepels sends this cautionary observation:

As a French citizen with a very critical view of my country’s current policies, my sympathy towards Chirac is very limited. However, I have to point that the recent reports about politicans bribed by the former Iraqi regime do not in fact incrimate Chirac (a translation of the original Iraqi article is available here: Link)

Charles Pasqua, the French politician named as a recipient of the bribes in the article, used to be close to Chirac until he endorsed his opponent during the 1995 presidential campaign. Since then, Pasqua has left Chirac’s political party. To sum up, Chirac isn’t really tainted by these accusations.

I think the Washington Times [UPI] article you linked to had a misleading title, since the original source never mentions Chirac.

Just my two cents..and thanks for your blog that I read with great pleasure every day.

Interesting. Well, as I said before, we’ll have to wait and see how this pans out.