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French scandal-trapped minister denies allegations on fiscal fraud

07-30-2010 11:17 BJT

PARIS, July 29 (Xinhua) -- French Labor Minister Eric Woerth rejected allegations on fiscal fraud with Liliane Bettencourt and illegal political donation during the last presidential campaign, Woerth's lawyer said on Thursday.

"Eric Woerth is working for a long time to put an end to these rumors. He denied vigorously the fact of receiving any political donation which offends law," his lawyer Jean-Yves Leborgne said.

French financial police questioned the minister over his involvement in alleged tax-evasion case of Bettencourt, the heirness of the L'Oreal and France's richest woman, in his office Thursday morning, while primary investigation concerning him started last week.

Woerth was under fire after Bettenccourt's former accountant documents came to light showing the donation of 150,000 million euros (about 197,360 U.S dollars) to the ruling party UMP to finance President Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign in 2007.

French law limits political donations to 7,500 euros per person per year with only 150 euros may be given in cash.

Besides, the labor minister and once budget minister was also accused of winning his wife's job by his influence and overlooking Bettencourt's fiscal loopholes on purpose.

However, his lawyer said that Woerth denied conflict of interest and any attempt to secure a job for his wife.

"He explained that he did not intervene at any time to make his wife hired by Patrice de Maistre (Bettencurt's fortune manager)," Leborgne added.

Woerth's wife was already questioned on July 21 by investigators. Her lawyer asserted it was not de Maistre, who talked with Woerth over her career in early 2007, that led to the hiring of Ms. Woerth. (1 U.S. dollar = 0.76 euros)

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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