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The Swiss link in France's top corruption case

Geneva-based Elf Aquitaine International is at the heart of the trial of French ex-minister Roland Dumas

(Keystone)

Although no Swiss is on trial in what is being billed as France's top corruption case, the country seems ever-present as the former foreign minister Roland Dumas appears in a Paris court.

Aside from Dumas, all those cited in the case either physically worked in Geneva or earned money there.

Dumas, who served as foreign minister under the late president, François Mitterrand, is accused of having received illegal payments and luxury gifts worth around one million dollars from France's former state-run Elf oil company between 1989 and 1992. Most were allegedly channelled through his then mistress, Christine Deviers-Joncour.

Deviers-Joncour is also in the dock alongside Dumas, accused of receiving just over nine million dollars from Elf, and holding a fake job with the company which allowed her to benefit from bogus consultancy fees in exchange for her influence over Dumas and other members of the French political establishment.

Deviers-Joncour, who has nicknamed herself the "Whore of the Republic", was paid by Geneva-based Elf Aquitaine International. But she had neither an office nor a secretary at the company's headquarters.

Several Elf executives are also named in the case: André Tarallo, the former director of Elf's operations in Gabon, who lives on Lake Geneva, Jean-Claude Vauchez, an administrator at Elf Aquitaine International, and the company's chief Loïk Le Floch-Prigent. Le Floch-Prigent's assistant Alfred Sirven, a former Geneva resident, is currently on the run in the Philippines.

Gilbert Miara, a former lover of Deviers-Joncour, is also accused of allowing her to launder her payments from Elf through his Swiss bank account.

Geneva is not the only Swiss city connected to the case. Paul Perraudin, the Swiss judge investigating the case since 1997, found that the missing funds had also passed through Lausanne, Zurich and Lugano.

Thereafter, most of the money is believed to have been sent to Liechtenstein. But the authorities in Liechtenstein have refused to respond to Swiss and French requests for judicial help.

swissinfo with agencies

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