Police question Chirac's alleged African bagman
French police on Thursday questioned a lawyer who claimed to have ferried suitcases holding a total of 20 million dollars in cash from African leaders to former president Jacques Chirac and an ally.
Robert Bourgi, an unofficial adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy and a notorious go-between in France's complex relations with its former African colonies, made the shock claims last week in a series of media interviews.
He said between 1995 and 2005 he regularly brought cash shipments from African leaders to Paris, first to Chirac when he was still mayor of Paris, then to Chirac's aide and future prime minister Dominique de Villepin.
Chirac, who is already on trial for another corruption case dating from his years as mayor, and Villepin have denied the charge and lodged libel suits.
Bourgi arrived at the headquarters of the French financial crimes squad at 5.00 pm (1500 GMT) and was still being questioned an hour later, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.
His allegations appeared designed to hurt two men who have become Sarkozy's political enemies since working with him in government, but since he made them Chirac allies have alleged the payments continued after 2005.
© 2011 AFP