12 Jun 2006

French paper claims Tahiti link in top level probe

10:17 am on 12 June 2006

A French newspaper claims that a secret bank account allegedly held by President Jacques Chirac in Japan was linked to activities in Tahiti.

The claim is based on documents seized at the home of a top French intelligence officer being questioned in connection with the so-called Clearstream affair that has rocked the government of Dominique de Villepin.

The newspaper, Le Canard Enchaine, says the top intelligence officer, General Philippe Rondot, found out ten years ago that an account in Tokyo in the name of Jacques Chirac held 55 million US dollars.

This was reportedly communicated to a judge in 2002.

With the information now leaked, General Rondot is refusing to testify further in the Clearstream investigation.

The Canard Enchaine also alleges that fund transfers to Japan had a Tahitian avenue through the then President Gaston Flosse.

The paper gives no details but the claim adds another dimension to an affair that has dogged France's ruling UMP party as it readies itself for next year's presidential election.