First lady faces scrutiny over credit card bills

4th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 4, 2007 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Wednesday denied a newspaper report that first lady Cecilia Sarkozy's personal credit card expenses were paid by the state.

PARIS, July 4, 2007 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Wednesday denied a newspaper report that first lady Cecilia Sarkozy's personal credit card expenses were paid by the state.

The satirical weekly Canard Enchaine last week reported that President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife had been given a credit card by the Elysee to cover her personal expenses.

After an opposition member of parliament asked Fillon to respond to the newspaper allegations, the prime minister said that "no one at the Elysee uses credit cards for personal expenses."

"This is all very petty and the Elysee will provide a detailed response" to the deputy, Rene Dosiere, added Fillon in an interview to French media.

The Canard Enchaine report quoted an unnamed Elysee official as saying that Cecilia, a 49-year-old former model and PR executive, had used the credit card twice to pay for lunch, spending 129 euros (175 dollars) and 272 euros.

In his written question to the prime minister, Dosiere asked "in what capacity does the wife of the head of state have access to public funds, given that she does not hold a position and is not part of the presidential staff."

Dosiere, who has earned a reputation as a self-styled watchdog of public spending and wrote a book called "The Elysee's Hidden Money", asked about the credit card's spending limit and whether cash withdrawals were permitted.

Cecilia Sarkozy has kept a low-profile since moving into the Elysee palace on May 16 with her two daughters from a previous marriage, Sarkozy's two sons, and their 10-year-old boy Louis.

She attended the Group of Eight summit in Germany last month, but returned to Paris early to celebrate her youngest daughter's 20th birthday, missing out on the programme of events prepared for G8 spouses.

The first lady intrigued France during the election campaign, making few appearances with her husband following a stormy period in their 11-year marriage culminating in a brief separation in 2005.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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