Paris terminal architect inChina theatre bung probe

1st June 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 29 (AFP) - The architect at the centre of Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport terminal collapse was the focus of a judicial probe last year into alleged corruption surrounding construction of the new Beijing National Theater, a judicial source said Saturday.

PARIS, May 29 (AFP) - The architect at the centre of Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport terminal collapse was the focus of a judicial probe last year into alleged corruption surrounding construction of the new Beijing National Theater, a judicial source said Saturday.

Paul Andreu said Friday he was at a loss to explain how a part of the new terminal he designed at Charles de Gaulle airport collapsed last Sunday, killing four people.

On Saturday a judicial source here said Andreu was named in a probe last year regarding possible "breach of trust" at the expense of Aeroports de Paris (ADP) and bribery by representatives of a foreign power.

ADP is the state-owned body which spent 750 million euros (896 million dollars) on the Andreu-designed airport terminal.

The probe is being led by Anne-Elisabeth Honorat, an examining magistrate from the Paris tribunal's financial branch.

French officials are trying to determine whether bribes were paid abroad and whether or not ADP played a role in securing the Beijing theatre contract for the 65-year-old Andreu, who worked for Aeroports de Paris until 2002.

The probe is also trying to establish whether Andreu received unjustified payments from ADP.

It was launched on the basis of a report by the Cour des Comptes, France's financial watchdog, on the management of ADP.

Subsequently an anonymous letter sent to Paris judicial authorities last year charged on the basis of internal ADP communications that Andreu had been paid twice for the Beijing contract, first as an ADP employee and second as architect of his private company.

"All the projects of this private company were entirely paid and carried out with money and material means from Aeroport de Paris," the letter said.

The letter questioned whether ADP, a state-owned company, was competent to pay "the fees of the independent architect Paul Andreu" with respect to the Beijing national theatre contract.

The letter said that in 1998 ADP signed a deal with the British firm Sodefinance Ltd under which this company agreed to promote ADP projects in China in exchange for payment of commissions in case of success.

Similar irregularities were also reported in another anonymous letter sent to French judicial authorities this week, after the Charles de Gaulle airport collapse, judicial sources said.

ADP was not available for comment on the charges.

Meanwhile Andreu received a vote of confidence Tuesday from his Chinese employers who said his job at a landmark theatre in Beijing was safe.

"We have confidence in Paul Andreu," Wang Zhengming, a spokesman involved in the theatre project told AFP, adding that work was progressing as normal.

Work on the Beijing theatre began in December 2001 after years of delays as critics complained the modern-looking building did not fit in with China's historical and cultural traditions.

The building is more than 149,500 square metres (1.6 million square feet) in area and comprises three halls, including a 2,416-seat opera house, a 2,017-seat concert hall and a 1,040-capacity theatre.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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