French tycoon Dassault investigated for vote-rigging

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The former mayor is being probed over vote buying, complicity in illegal election campaign financing and exceeding campaign spending limits.

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French tycoon and politician Serge Dassault was placed under formal investigation on Thursday over his alleged role in a vote-rigging scandal in the Paris suburb where he formerly served as the center-right mayor for 14 years, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Dassault is the head of family-owned Groupe Dassault Holding, which controls assets ranging from aeronautics group Dassault Aviation to the right-leaning Le Figaro newspaper, as well as stakes in several major defense firms.

An investigating magistrate in Paris placed the 88-year-old, also a senator for the center-right UMP party, under formal investigation over suspicions he played a role in vote-rigging, corruption, money-laundering and misuse of public funds from 2008 to 2010 in the suburb of Corbeil-Essonnes where he served as mayor from 1995 to 2009.

Dassault was not placed under judicial surveillance and was free to continue running his operations.

Paris prosecutors opened an initial inquiry in March to follow up on findings from a 2010 investigation following the discovery of 2 million euros ($2.75 million) in suspicious money transfers made while Dassault was mayor.