French tycoon in custody over corruption

Serge Dassault admits he used his vast personal wealth to help Corbeil residents, but he denies paying for votes.

Last updated: 20 Feb 2014 02:49
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Forbes magazine estimates Dassault's fortune to be worth $18billion [Reuters]

Serge Dassault/Services/System/TinyMCE the billionaire manufacturer of French fighter jets/Services/System/TinyMCE was in custody for alleged vote-buying in Corbeil-Essonnes/Services/System/TinyMCE east of Paris/Services/System/TinyMCE where he was formerly mayor.

The move comes a week after Dassault's parliamentary immunity was lifted/Services/System/TinyMCE reports AFP news agency.

Dassault was interrogated on Wednesday in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre/Services/System/TinyMCE a judicial source said.

The judges suspect Dassault of operating an extensive system of vote-buying which influenced the outcome of three mayoral elections in Corbeil in 2008/Services/System/TinyMCE 2009 and 2010/Services/System/TinyMCE which were won either by Dassault or by his successor and close
associate Jean-Pierre Bechter.

The result of the 2008 vote/Services/System/TinyMCE won by Dassault/Services/System/TinyMCE was invalidated by the Council of State after the body which oversees public administration discovered a series of payments which could have influenced the outcome of the election.

That ruling did not require the same burden of proof as a criminal prosecution for vote buying would/Services/System/TinyMCE but formal charges against Dassault now look inevitable.

Bechter has already been charged/Services/System/TinyMCE as has Cristela de Oliveira/Services/System/TinyMCE a former official in the mayor's office who is suspected of allocating council flats to families in return for backing Dassault or Bechter.

As well as the alleged vote-buying/Services/System/TinyMCE Dassault could be charged with money-laundering and misuse of public assets/Services/System/TinyMCE sufficiently serious crimes to raise the possibility of a prison term.

In 1998/Services/System/TinyMCE Dassault received a two-year suspended prison sentence in Belgium for bribing members of the country's Socialist Party to win an army-helicopter contract in what became known as the Agusta scandal.


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