Chirac denies meddling in Executive Life

8th December 2003, Comments 0 comments

TUNIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac of France said Saturday he had not personally tried to prevent an agreement with the US justice department in the Executive Life affair.

TUNIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac of France said Saturday he had not personally tried to prevent an agreement with the US justice department in the Executive Life affair.

France rejected a final offer for an amicable settlement with the department on Tuesday, leaving the way open for criminal charges to be filed against the Credit Lyonnais bank and other French parties involved in the case.

Speaking at a news conference here, Chirac replied simply "no," when asked if he personally had opposed the proposed agreement.

Credit Lyonnais, formerly a state-owned bank, is accused of flouting US and California laws barring banks and foreign governments from owning more than 25 percent of an insurer when it acquired Executive Life after its collapse in 1991.

It was alleged to have subsequently fraudulently covered up the transaction, then passing the assets to Artemis, a holding company owned by Francois Pinault, a close friend of Chirac, in order to conceal its involvement.

Reports have said that Artemis made billions of dollars from the transaction.

The US-French talks broke down after Pinault and Artemis failed to agree to their part of a global settlement, US sources said.

Chirac has come under fire from some French media and deputies for risking payment of far more than the 585 million dollar fine proposed in the US settlement offer.

The critics have accused Chirac of trying to protect Pinault rather than acting in the interests of taxpayers.

Chirac said the government had a "constant position" - that of "defending the financial interests of the states and the interests of French tax payers."

© AFP

                                                                Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article