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France's main opposition party hit by corruption probe

Published on Mar 13, 2014 11:59 PM

PARIS (AFP) - French prosecutors have opened an investigation into allegations a firm belonging to friends of the main opposition leader systematically over-billed his UMP party, a judicial source said Thursday.

The probe was launched on March 5 following revelations by weekly Le Point that Jean-Francois Cope, leader of the UMP party to which former French president Nicolas Sarkozy also belongs, allegedly used his influence to channel party contracts to the PR company, which then charged the UMP more than the market rate.

It is the latest corruption probe to hit France's centre-right opposition, which has been caught on the back-foot with a string of scandals allegedly implicating Sarkozy and several others.

The probe centres around allegations that Event & Cie, a subsidiary of the Bygmalion PR company, over-billed the UMP, particularly during Sarkozy's 2012 election campaign which ended in failure.

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