Pro-Macron MP detained in French corruption inquiry
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An MP for President Emmanuel Macron's Republic on the Move (REM) has been taken into custody as part of a corruption and tax-dodging inquiry.
Thierry Solère was taken in for questioning in Nanterre, just outside Paris, on Tuesday morning, following the lifting of his parliamentary immunity on 11 July.
An investigation into tax fraud, launched in September 2016, has since been broadened to cover suspicions of influence-peddling, misuse of corporate assets, illegal election financing and failure to declare revenue to the parliamentarians' assets watchdog.
From Fillon to Macron
Solère, one of several politicians who defected to Macron's camp during the 2017 presidential election campaign, was expelled from the mainstream-right Republicans and went on to join REM.
The tax fraud allegations date back to 2010-13 when he was a regional councillor, becoming an MP in 2012 and allying himself to Bruno Le Maire, who also quit the Republicans when François Fillon's presidential campaign ran aground and is now economy minister.
In 2017 the Canard Enchaîné weekly revealed that he had failed to pay some of his taxes for that period, leading to part of his salary being seized.
Solère said that he had been subjected to a run-of-the-mill check and had not committed any crime.
Waste disposal consultancy
At the time he also worked as a consultant, notably for waste disposal firm Chimirec, which paid him 12,000 euros a month, according to investigative website Mediapart.
The investigators suspect him of abusing his influence as a local and national elected representative to help his clients win contracts, according to Le Monde newspaper.
He is also suspected of providing a fake job as parliamentary assistant to Isabelle Fabiew, the wife of Eric Fabiew, the boss of Aliapur a tyre recycling company that is also recognised by the French parliament as a lobby group for which Solère worked as a consultant between 2003 and 2012, the paper says.
Another allegation involves loans of over a million euros granted by property companies owned by a personal friend.
These were supposedly never declared to the tax authorities and are said to have been used to buy three apartments that were then sold back to the same companies for a profit.
Solère denies breaking any laws and transmitted the demand for his immunity to be lifted to the parliamentary speaker himself, saying he wanted to explain his side of the case to the investigators.
The scandal has caused some collateral damage.
Former justice minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas was charged in June for violation of the principle of professional secrecy, accused of communicating details of the case to Solère.