Former Sarkozy aide denies influence peddling
PARIS, July 14 |
PARIS, July 14 (Reuters) - Senior Credit Agricole executive Xavier Musca said on Saturday he would take steps to fight back legally against accusations of influence-peddling during his time as a top official under former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
The launch of a preliminary investigation into Musca on Friday followed a series of graft allegations in France that prompted President Francois Hollande to pledge in a Bastille Day interview to clean up and modernise politics.
Musca said he would launch a case for "false accusation" against insurance entrepreneur Christian Laurent, who filed the original complaint in the case.
"My name has been cited in a legal complaint founded on baseless allegations," Musca told Reuters.
The accusations against Musca relate to the award by then finance minister Christine Lagarde of a national medal of honour to a legal expert who sided with the state in a legal battle against Laurent's insurance business, Itea.
Musca was head of the French Treasury at the time before later becoming Sarkozy's chief of staff.
An official at the prosecutor's office, speaking under the French custom of not being identified by name, said that Laurent was also filing a separate complaint against Lagarde, who is now head of the International Monetary Fund.
Under the French system, there are separate channels for pursuing former ministers and a complaint against Lagarde would have to be vetted by a specific legal body to see whether there were grounds for pursuing the matter, the official said.
In Musca's case, a preliminary police inquiry will seek to establish whether the complaint is sufficiently serious to merit a proper investigation.
Musca has been head of international retail banking by Credit Agricole since June and his experience as France's leading euro zone crisis expert under Sarkozy could prove valuable to the French bank, which sources familiar with the matter have said is seeking to sell all or part of its struggling Greek subsidiary, Emporiki. (Reporting By Emmanuel Jarry; editing by Patrick Graham)
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