January 14, 2004


The French parliament has bowed to pressure to launch a fact-finding mission into the way President Jacques Chirac’s centre-right government handled negotiations with US judicial authorities over the Executive Life affair. . . .

Opposition politicians have accused Mr Chirac of putting his personal friendship with François Pinault, the retail magnate at the centre of the scandal, ahead of taxpayers’ interests in negotiations with Californian prosecutors.

They say he intervened at the last minute to block an earlier $585m deal that had the approval of the finance ministry, purely because it excluded Mr Pinault, owner of the Gucci fashion group through his Artemis family holding company.

It looks as if there are efforts in both France and America to keep this from blowing up completely. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

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