Ex-French pres Chirac faces corruption accusations

By the Associated Press | September 12, 2011 | 6:10 AM EDT

PARIS (AP) — A lawyer says he delivered an estimated $20 million in cash from West African leaders for former French President Jacques Chirac and his prime minister, Dominique de Villepin.

Robert Bourgi says the heads of state of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Republic of Congo contributed cash payments to Chirac's 2002 presidential campaign.

In an interview Monday on Europe-1 radio, Bourgi said "the entirety of (France's) political class knew there was hidden financing."

Bourgi's accusations come as Chirac is on trial on charges that fake Paris City Hall jobs were used to fund his conservative party during his tenure as Paris mayor.

A judge ruled last week that 78-year-old ex-president did not have to attend the trial as he suffers from memory lapses.