French Finance Minister likely to quit

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at
Wed Nov 3 07:16:58 PST 1999

> The Hindu : French Finance Minister likely to quit
> Tuesday, November 02, 1999
> French Finance Minister likely to quit
> By Vaiju Naravane
> PARIS, NOV. 1. Paris is rife with rumours about the possible resignation
> Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, France's brilliant and charismatic Finance
> Minister. He is suspected of being linked to a corruption scandal
> several prominent socialists accused of milking the MNEF, a left wing
> students' insurance fund for personal gain and to bankroll political
> activity. Mr. Strauss-Kahn served as a legal consultant to the MNEF from
> 1994 to 1996.
> These accusations come at a particularly delicate time for the Socialist
> Party, the dominant partner in France's ruling coalition which includes
> communists, the greens and several small left wing parties. The French
> Socialists have their eye on Paris City all, a plum position of power and
> influence which has been dominated by the President, Mr. Jacques Chirac's
> right wing RPR Party. Mr. Stauss-Kahn with his easy charm, undoubted
> and moderate, even liberal political leanings, has long been considered
> ideal candidate to woo Paris' notoriously conservative and tight-fisted
> electorate.
> The rumours of a possible resignation have become particularly persistent
> since an unscheduled Sunday evening meeting between Mr. Strauss- Kahn and
> the Prime Minister, Mr. Lionel's Jospin, on the latter's return from the
> French territories of Martinique and Guadaloupe. The Finance Minister is
> expected to voluntarily contact the judges looking into the affair in
> to explain his role; but they could still exercise their right to order a
> formal investigation.
> Money was allegedly siphoned off from the MNEF coffers for doubtful real
> estate which are said to have enriched several prominent socialists who
> the fund. The fund also reportedly paid out large sums of money for fake
> printing bills.
> These allegations are likely to seriously weaken the socialist's attack
> against the present mayor of Paris, Mr. Jean Tiberi, of the right- wing
> party. For the past two years, Mr. Tiberi has been at the centre of a
> corruption scandal.
> Mr. Strauss-Kahn's departure would be a blow not just for Socialist
> aspirations of winning Paris City Hall, but for Mr. Jospin as well. He is
> universally respected economist under whose guidance the French economy
> flourished. After a long period of sluggishness, economic activity has
> picked up significantly with an accompanying downturn in unemployment
> figures.
> This latest corruption scandal comes as no surprise. In a recent report
> published by Transparency International, a global, anti- corruption NGO,
> France was consistently low on the list of corrupt western European
> democracies. Several French Ministers, among them Mr. Strauss-Kahn,
> do not hesitate to regularly sermonise against the evils of corruption in
> international economic gatherings. The influential French daily Le Monde
> an ascerbic editorial commented: ``Before giving lessons to others, one
> should set an example at home.''
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