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FRANCE - POLITICS

Inquiries into ex-minister de Rugy's expenses say no wrongdoing

Francois de Rugy, then Minister of Ecological Transition with President Emmanuel Macron at work in the Presidential Palace, the Elysée, 23rd May 2019
Francois de Rugy, then Minister of Ecological Transition with President Emmanuel Macron at work in the Presidential Palace, the Elysée, 23rd May 2019 Reuters

Two official investigations into alleged abuse of public funds by former ecology minister François de Rugy have cleared him of misconduct over renovations to his official residence and lavish dinners when he was president of the National Assembly.

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A government inquiry panel found that apart from rushing some of the work, including the new 17,000 euro fitted walk-in wardrobe in his official residence, de Rugy had not squandered public money for his personal benefit on home improvements.

Some of the trimmings were found to be unnecessary however, such as replacing the mouldings on some ceilings in the 156-square metre apartment.

A number of contracts worth close to 65,000 euros were ordered by de Rugy in the 18th Century Hôtel de Roquelaure in Paris at the end of 2018.

The report concludes that no work had been carried out in the historic building since 2009 – in some places not since 2003 – and therefore renovation work in some rooms was justified.

It also noted that the orders were placed in accordance with standard government practice, and that some estimates had even been lowered.

Fine dining for fine guests

A separate parliamentary panel found that nine extravagant dinner parties brought into question by the investigative news site Mediapart were official functions, and the lavish price tags were justified by de Rugy's position within parliament and the calibre of his guests. 

However, the National Assembly investigative panel signalled out three dinners with family or friends for which he will have to foot the bill. 

Counter-attack

De Rugy, who resigned from his ministerial post last week under pressure arising from the inquiries, has indicated that his lawyer is working hard on preparing to fight back. He has always claimed that his hands are clean.

Médiapart revealed details about de Rugy's lifestyle and spending in July. The publication has since looked into his love of cars.

Mediapart has also called into question the way the National Assembly's secretary general carried out the checks. De Rugy amongst others were heard and bills and guest lists were examined.

Some MPs were also sceptical and dispute whether the examinations have been thorough enough.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has said he has utmost faith in those who carried out the inquiries.

His office announced on Tuesday that in the future, renovation and repair work in official residences would be subject to even tighter controls.

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