Jospin spokesman added to Socialist 'corruption' list

September 22, 2000

The official spokesman for prime minister Lionel Jospin is the latest Socialist Party member to face unwelcome attention during investigations into fraud and corruption at France's former largest student social insurance society.

An incriminatory letter written in 1990 by Manuel Valls on headed notepaper from the office of the prime minister at the time, Michel Rocard, has been found in files at the society, Mutuelle Nationale des Etudiants de France.

Mr Valls, now Mr Jospin's spokesman, worked at the time for Mr Rocard. The letter to MNEF's then president, Dominique Leveque, implies that high-ranking Socialists exercised close control over MNEF executives with a line of command running from the prime minister's office through the Socialist party hierarchy to MNEF's director-general, Olivier Spithakis.

In the letter, Mr Valls apparently threatened reprisals because an official of the student union Unef-ID, a body close to the MNEF and the Socialist party, was not appointed to the society's board.

Official inquiries have been continuing for two-and-a-half years into allegations that during Mr Spithakis's 15 years in charge, the MNEF had been carrying out practices that contravened its non-profit status, with its many subsidiaries diversifying into fields such as property and finance; awarding lucrative fictitious posts and consultancies to socialist politicians and activists; and raising funds for political campaigns.

During the course of inquiries, several Socialist politicians and workers have been implicated, including former economics minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last year, and MP Jean-Marie Le Guen, who has withdrawn as candidate for mayoral elections to be held next year.

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