Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Yet More Sleaze: Pasqua's Right-hand Man in Big House Tonight

Former Interior minister Charles Pasqua's right-hand man Jean-Charles Marchiani was interrogated to-day by investigating magistrate Philippe Courroye who is leading several inquiries into illegal kickbacks.

Marchiani, a former spy, was placed in detention following his interrogation. He had benefited from immunity as an elected official in the European parliament but this changed following the defeat of the sovereigntists in June's European elections. Marchiani's immunity ended June 20.

Courroye suspects Marchiani of "influence peddling," "theft of public funds" and "concealing the profits of illegal weapons sales" relative to the inquiry into illegal sales of arms to Angola. Authorities are seeking to question and detain Marchiani in four other investigations, the first of which is a contract for Leclerc tanks signed with the German company Renk. Authorities allege Marchiani received 2.4 million deutschemarks as payment for facilitating the deal. Marchiani received he last installment in March of last year.

The second alleged crime relates to the awarding of a contract in the early 1990s between Vanderlande Industries SA and Aéroports de Paris to build a baggage delivery system at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle. Authorities suspect Marchiani of having split a commission with his brother Claude and with one of Pasqua's cousins. Marchiani allegedly received FF 9.7 million in a Swiss account. Investigators say he kept half for himself.

In the third matter relates to a money-laundering investigation opened in 2001 that soon widened to include Marchiani's wife who is now suspected of "concealment of aggravated embezzlement" and "aggravated influence peddling." (Yes, these are listed crimes). Lastly, Marchiani is suspected of having received illegal payments from contracts awarded to Sofremi, an arms export company that is effectively controlled by the Interior ministry.

Marchiani was also interrogated in January for "concealment of theft of public funds" in the matter of illegal commissions paid by oil giant Elf as part of contracts signed in Nigeria. Marchiani is alleged to have received US $ 5 million through an account held by a company in Liechtenstein. Again, he is thought to have kept half for him self and doled out the rest to associates.

UPDATE: In the comments, reader Sandy P. points out that I neglected to write "million" betwen 2.4 and deutschemarks. This has been corrected. Reader Martin A. also points out that "Pasqua was also one of the French names on Saddam's UN sponsored Oil for Food list, wasn't he?" Indeed. According to MEMRI's translation, "former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua received 12 million barrels," though they add that, in an appearance of 1/27/04 on RFI, "Mr. Pasqua denied receiving anything from Saddam."

But see here for C. Bloggerfelle's translation of an analysis of the list by Horizon's editor-in-chief Véronique Maurus that appeared in Le Monde. She writes: "for all its faults, the list from the newspaper Al Mada is true. Evidence collected throughout the world as well as from oil circles cons[is]tantly confirms it."

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