Sarkozy recompenses

PARIS:French president Nicolas Sarkozy has paid back more than Euro14,000 to the state after it emerged that personal and family bills were put through the Elysee Palace accounts. The expenses came to light in the first state audit of a French leader’s spending since Louis XVI just before the French revolution.

The report, published yesterday by France’s national auditor, acknowledged Sarkozy had paid back Euro14,123 in personal bills from 2008.

The nature of the costs was not revealed and Sarkozy asked for receipts to be returned to him. The auditors said he had not known the expenses went through palace accounts.

On official spending, Philippe Seguin, the national auditor, questioned Euro400,000 worth of opinion polls commissioned by the palace, some of which ended up in the press or on TV. More attention needed to be paid to making different food suppliers bid for contracts to secure better deals.

The company that regularly supplies marquees for the presidential Bastille day garden party was hired again last year despite charging 50 per cent more than another bidder, and the presidential palace had spent around Euro3,000 on fines for late payment of electricity and gas bills. Sarkozy paid up after a row over a 140 per cent pay increase when he took office.