Fresh party finance reports target second French minister
French media Friday published fresh reports of party fundraising by a government minister, in the midst of an embarrassing political finance scandal for President Nicolas Sarkozy's government.
The daily Liberation and Le Point magazine said Laurent Wauquiez, a junior minister for employment, took donations from bankers in London to finance his minority party Nouvel Oxygene.
Wauquiez declined to respond to the reports on Friday but Liberation quoted him as saying the sums received were not "big amounts" and the donors were in no way linked with his ministerial duties.
Donations by individuals to political parties are limited by law in France to 7.500 euros (9,700 dollars) a year. Wauquiez is a member of the ruling UMP party but, like several other ministers, has set up his own small party on the side.
The reports said the fundraising took place on June 28, during an ongoing scandal over allegations of tax evasion and illegal campaign funding linked to France's richest woman, the L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
The scandal has drawn in Labour Minister Eric Woerth, who has been accused of conflicts of interest. He has denied the allegations and is supported by Sarkozy who has dismissed the scandal as a smear campaign.
© 2010 AFP