Showing posts with label Clearstream. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clearstream. Show all posts

Friday, July 27, 2007

Judicial examination for former French leader

French legal concepts are rather different to the so-called English common law that forms the basis of Australia's system. I've spoken of the Clearstream affair in two earlier posts, entitled Chirac has some explaining to do [display] and Destruction of computer files [display]. Up until today, in the context of an alleged scheme designed to frame Nicolas Sarkozy, the former prime minister Dominique de Villepin has merely been suspected of playing a role. This morning, the legal system went one step further by announcing that Villepin will be subjected to a so-called judicial examination, to be carried out under the control of a special magistrate referred to as a juge d'instruction [inquiry judge].

For Villepin, this new development means that he and his lawyers will have full access to his legal dossier, which was not the case up until now. Although Villepin is not yet actually charged with violating any law whatsoever, the announcement concerning his judicial examination mentions explicitly no less than four infractions that would figure in the charges that could well be brought against him, at the conclusion of the examination. I shall indicate the French name of each infraction, and try to describe it in English.

Complicité de dénonciation calomnieuse: The accused was an accomplice in a spontaneous operation that consisted of publicly denouncing the victim by citing facts known to be false. In other words, if Villepin were to be accused [which, I insist, is not yet the case], it would be due to his calumny suggesting that Sarkozy received illicit funds paid through Clearstream.

Recel de vol: Handling stolen goods. The Clearstream documents at the origin of this affair were indeed stolen.

Recel d'abus de confiance: The word recel means "concealment", and the expression abus de confiance might be translated as "breach of faith". The charge involves using something that belongs to another individual with the intention of harming the true owner. To be frank, I don't understand exactly what could be involved here. I believe it's the general notion of stealing banking data and falsifying it with intent to harm an individual to whom the original data is supposed to apply. Very complicated!

Complicité d'usage de faux: Association with accomplices making use of forged documents.

An interesting aspect of this announcement is the possibility that Dominique de Villepin will probably refuse to answer questions from the inquiry judge, and insist that his case be brought before a special jurisdiction known as the Court of Justice of the Republic, created in 1993, whose sole mission concerns charges aimed at a minister who was still in function at the time of the alleged infractions.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Destruction of computer files

Clearly, the only efficient tool for trashing computer files is a hammer. The destruction process should of course encompass, not only the computer's internal memory and hard disks, but all the CDs that might have been used for backup. Then, to make doubly sure that nothing whatsoever remains to be read, I would recommend pouring hydrochloric acid over all the smashed-up stuff. Finally, it wouldn't be a bad idea to conclude with petroleum fuel, but be careful not to get burned when you set fire to the debris. Last but not least, you might put all the charred remains in a hessian sack and drop it discreetly into a deep and swiftly-flowing river.

The French general Philippe Rondot did not take these elementary precautions, and that's why a police laboratory has just recovered the data in 39 supposedly-trashed files, still lurking in his computer, containing some thirty thousand pages of notes. Wow, that intelligence specialist was a prolific writer! Meanwhile, we naive outsiders imagined that spies kept most things in their heads, and only rarely resorted to the use of techniques such as invisible ink.

In any case, the outcome of this massive data recovery is that things don't look nice for the former prime minister Dominique de Villepin nor, for that matter, for Jacques Chirac... who has already made it clear that, in keeping with French law, he refuses to be interrogated concerning affairs that took place during his presidency. As I pointed out in my post of 26 May 2007 entitled Chirac has some explaining to do [display], the affair is complicated, but it all boils down to determining whether or not these gentlemen attempted to frame Nicolas Sarkozy with the help of fake documents suggesting that Sarkozy had stashed away money in a foreign bank. Stand by for future installments...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Chirac has some explaining to do

We've heard a strange financial allegation concerning Jacques Chirac, former president of France. Apparently he has an account at the Tokyo Sowa bank, and the balance of the ex-president's account would appear to be 45 million euros. Now, that's a hell of a lot of spare cash, and people are obviously wondering where it came from.

The global context in which this bank account has come to light is referred to, in France, as the Clearstream Affair, since it concerns a Luxembourg clearing house of that name.

Everything started in 2001, with a judicial inquiry into alleged commissions associated with the sale of French frigates to Taiwan in 1991. This inquiry was assigned to a celebrated French magistrate, Renaud Van Ruymbeke, who had already handled several high-profile affairs. He was appreciated for his competent style in terminating the case of the 1996 murder in a French youth hostel of an English schoolgirl, Caroline Dickinson. This case was finally solved, after nine years of futile investigations [click here to see the BBC timeline], thanks to the diligence of an alert US immigration officer.

In January 2004, the French prime minister Dominique de Villepin called upon a mysterious general, Philippe Rondot, well-versed in intelligence affairs, to do some detective work in the domain of the frigates affair. Then, a few months later, an anonymous individual sent the judge Van Ruymbeke several documents that claimed to name prominent people whose illegal commissions concerning the Taiwan frigates had been paid into secret accounts at the Clearstream bank. And one of these named people was Nicolas Sarkozy.

Finally, after numerous investigations and incidents, it emerged that these alleged Clearstream documents were forgeries, and the identity of the forger was revealed. And it was during these investigations, in May 2006, that the Canard enchaîné weekly newspaper revealed the anecdote concerning Philippe Rondot's discovery of the president's mysterious bank account in Japan.

In France, the most famous magistrate in the financial corruption sphere is Norwegian-born Eva Joly. A few days ago, she made life more uncomfortable for the ex-president by declaring publicly that she hopes that French justice opens an inquiry into Chirac's alleged Japanese bank account. So, many observers predict that sparks will start to fly after June 17, when the ex-president's penal immunity terminates.

This question of a mysterious bank account has nothing to do, a priori, with the other affair [click here to see my previous article on this subject] for which Chirac might have some explaining to do: salaries paid to fictitious employees at the city hall of Paris, in fact money directed towards Chirac's political party.