PARIS Aug 6 French authorities have requested
that a marathon corruption investigation linked to arms sales to
Taiwan in the 1990s be dropped for lack of evidence, the Paris
prosecutor's office said on Wednesday.
The scandal around the sale of six frigates to Taiwan in
1991 was one of a series of cases that underpinned accusations
of widespread corruption during the final years of the late
President Francois Mitterrand.
It also lay at the heart of the tortuous "Clearstream"
affair in which former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was
accused of plotting to smear his rival for the presidency,
Paris state prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin signed an order
last month closing the case after deciding that the
investigation had not produced any evidence of illegal payments
behind the $2.8 billion frigate deal.
The two magistrates who have been examining the affair since
2001, Renaud Van Ruymbeke and Xavier Simeoni, will have to take
a final decision on whether to close the case.
The Paris prosecutor also decided there was no evidence to
support corruption allegations in a related suit that targeted
several former executives of oil group Elf Aquitaine, which has
since been acquired by Total (TOTF.PA).
The case centred on allegations that bribes were paid to win
the 1991 deal to sell the Taiwanese navy six Lafayette-class
frigates built by French industrial group Thomson-CSF, which has
since become defence group Thales (TCFP.PA).
Numerous officials and military officers in Taiwan have been
charged in the affair as well as several top Elf executives
including former chief executive Loic Le Floch-Prigent and his
controversial aide Alfred Sirven, who has since died.
Roland Dumas, who served as foreign minister under former
President Francois Mitterrand, was also implicated through his
mistress, a former Elf lobbyist named Christine Deviers-Joncour
but always denied wrongdoing.