Business scandals temper Chirac's moralizing about Iraq

Days before French President Jacques Chirac's antiwar absolutism yielded to the invasion of Iraq, an interesting trial began in Paris.It's a corruption case against 37 former managers of the formerly state-owned Elf Aquitaine SA, which was privatized in 1994 and later merged into what's now TotalFinaElf SA.Prosecutors allege the managers skimmed hundreds of millions of dollars from officially sanctioned bribes paid to governments in Africa and elsewhere to secure contracts.Illicit payments are said to have soared during 1989-93, while Loik Le Floch-Prigent was Elf's president. Two years ago, Le Floch-Prigent and another Elf executive, Alfred Sirven, were convicted of corru...

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