French prosecutor to probe claim of cash to Chirac

September 13, 2011 - 2:50 PM

PARIS (AP) — A judicial official says the Paris prosecutor's office is opening a preliminary investigation into the claims of a French lawyer that former President Jacques Chirac received suitcases of cash from African leaders when he was in office.

The financial division of the prosecutor's office will question Robert Bourgi, who claimed to be the go-between, about his allegations that also target former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. The official requested anonymity Tuesday because he isn't authorized to speak publicly.

Chirac and Villepin have said they'd sue Bourgi for defamation.

Bourgi claimed that some $20 million in illegal cash was delivered to Chirac and other politicians between 1995 and 2005.

A preliminary investigation determines whether the case should be pursued.