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Did disgraced ex-minister de Rugy actually do anything wrong?

François de Rugy, former environment minister, now facing accusations that he misused public money.
François de Rugy, former environment minister, now facing accusations that he misused public money. GEORGES GOBET / AFP

Five days after the former ecology minister François de Rugy was forced to resign due to allegations that he had misused public money, two official investigations seem to suggest that he, in fact, did not.

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The official results of the two separate investigations are due to be made public on Tuesday. But tabloid paper Le Parisien has already revealed the essential details.

In the two alleged breaches – including excessive spending on luxurious private dinners and an exaggerated bill for the refurbishment of his official residence – de Rugy appears to have done nothing wrong.

The expensive dinners were investigated by the French parliamentary service. It was originally alleged by the news site Mediapart that, during his time as President of the National Assembly, de Rugy had organised at least ten private receptions, serving lobster and fine wines from the cellars of the French parliament.

The official report, according to the radio station France Info and Le Parisien, will say that these meals were all, in fact, of a professional nature, and were not excessive in view of the importance of de Rugy's position and the calibre of his guests.

The other allegation against the ex-minister concerns the redecoration of his private rooms at the Environment Ministry, which cost the state 63,000 euros.

The government's general secretariat has inspected the work done, verified the tendering process and examined the estimates and bills. "Everything is perfectly in order," according to an unidentified official who has seen the finished report.

The price is apparently justified by the fact that the specialists, who are retained to work in 18th century listed buildings, offer a very high level of expertise. And are very expensive.

François de Rugy will await the official publication of the two reports which seem to vindicate him before making a statement. But he has already allowed himself a smile on Twitter with the observation that the facts in the two cases are more powerful than the claims of his detractors.

Le Parisien says that a number of questions remain.

Each of the reports clearing the former minister has been produced by individuals within or close to the circle of power. One ministerial advisor quoted by the Paris paper says there is a clear sense that the man has already suffered sufficiently in losing his job, and there is no point in further denigration.

There is also a third accusation against de Rugy. It is alleged by Mediapart that he used some of his government expenses to finance the green party Europe Ecology.

The problem is that he also appears to have deducted the money, a total of 9,200 euros, from his tax statement, even though government expenses are automatically excluded from income tax.

De Rugy's parliamentary colleague, Damien Adam, says that such a procedure is obviously wrong. If it turns out to be true, Adam continues, then de Rugy did the right thing by resigning.

François de Rugy has made no statement on the latest claims. But he has begun legal proceedings for defamation against Mediapart.

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