Thursday, May 04, 2006

A charge too far?

L'affaire Clearstream: time to sign another petition?

Aside from the latest stuff about De Villepin trying to get Sarkozy investigated (oh no he didn't), what's behind this? I started by looking to see what Le Monde had on this. This may have been a mistake, as we shall see later. I then followed my own suggestion,  of searching for info on Denis Robert and Clearstream. At about the same time as the piece on France  Inter I heard, Denis Robert  also gave an interview on 20 Minutes. According to him, the false accusations are not the real story. The real story is about Clearstream (possibly) being used as a mechanism to wipe out traces of financial transactions, about tax havens (paradis fiscaux) ...

Denis Robert also has a weblog, though you may find it blocked.

Here is a view from the financial establishment: Clearstream’s reputation is cleared.... Appeals are still ongoing, however (in the French courts).

On 27 January 2006,  a little-reported event : Denis Robert was summonsed by the Luxemburg courts for libel and defamation -  l’inculpation de trop (a charge too far). The history behind this is as follows. While researching his book, Révélation$, which was about to make serious allegations about  Clearstream, he sent their management a number of letters, giving them the opportunity to respond. He had very little response. After the book came out in February 2001, there was a storm of legal actions. The book's publishers calculated that the total of claims for damages exceeded their annual turnover.

The action in Luxemburg is on charges for which Robert has already been acquitted in the French courts (in the first instance and on appeal).

The Wikipedia entry, Révélation$, is largely based on the previous reference. It does, however, add one little detail: the reception for the book in France was mixed and that of Le Monde in particular was 'distant'.

I have no idea whether Robert's claims are true - they may strike some as similar to the 911-type conspiracy theories, but it seems to me that he should be supported in his right to express them, in the face of pressure from banks with their massive financial resources. The petition can be found here.

Update (Thursday, 4 May): Other people who have been mentioned in the affair include:
Mikhail Khodorkovsky,  through Menatep;
Imad Lahoud, the nephew of the Lebanese president:
Fritz Bolkestein, whose name will be forever linked in French minds with attempts to liberalise the services market in the EU.

Le Monde published, Wednesday afternoon, a document (pdf) which added more fuel to the fire. France Inter claimed last night that it proved De Villepin had lied.


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