Prosecutors have dropped what was to be a preliminary enquiry into claims that former French President Jacques Chirac and former PM Dominique de Villepin were given £13 million by African policymakers.
The investigation has been called off in its early stages due to lack of evidence, according to Paris prosecutors.
The allegations started in September, when lawyer Robert Bourgi reported that he had been a witness to Chirac taking briefcases full of cash.
Bourgi has made other such allegations, most notably against the right-wing politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, who also dismisses the allegations as “false” and “ridiculous.”
Chirac and de Villepin have said that they are planning to sue Bourgi for defamation of character in the wake of the September allegations.
France has been forced to drop the investigation since there is ‘no trace’ of evidence of what Bourgi claims were several suitcases full of cash given to Chirac while he was mayor of Paris during the 1980s and 90s.
Bourgi claims that the suitcases contained at least 5 million fracs (£630,000), but sometimes held as much as 15 million francs.
He also claimed that the handover of money was done in de Villepin’s presence starting in 1995, where the two leaders received 10 million francs from Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko.
While he himself admits that there is “no proof, no trace” of the secret payments, he has alleged that a total of about $20 million has been given to Chirac and de Villepin from the leaders of former African colonies.
While there is no clear allegation as to why the leaders were making large, cash contributions to Chirac and de Villepin, Bourgi infers that many contributions were for the 2002 election campaign.
Among the list of African leaders who allegedly gave ‘dirty cash’ to the French politicians are Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore, and Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso. He also said that former leaders from the Ivory Coast and Gabon were included in handing over a total of $10 million for the election campaign.
Bourgi has said that in exchange for the money, he said that the money was hush money to ensure that “France would close its eyes to certain abuses of power in Africa.”
De Villepin, who is expected to run for election next year, has repeatedly denied the accusations along with Jacques Chirac.