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It was their secret. Every Christmas from 2003 to 2014, the venerable senators belonging to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, recently renamed Les Républicains, received a hand-out of around 8,000 euros per person on the quiet, on top of their ample salaries and expenses. It was described by the senators themselves as their annual tip or 'Christmas box'. Now the new chairman of their Senate group has decided to put an end to the practice. Mathilde Mathieu reports on yet another example of the Senate gravy-train, which emerges amid a continuing judicial investigation into suspected money laundering and misuse of public funds by the UMP Senate group.
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