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EX-FRENCH PRIME MINISTER PROBED IN PARIS SCANDAL

A judge Tuesday placed former French Prime Minister Alain Juppe under formal investigation -- a step short of being charged -- over allegations involving an employment scandal while he was finance director for the City of Paris, judicial sources said.

Judge Patrick Desmure is investigating claims that city employees actually were working for the conservative Rally for the Republic Party, which President Jacques Chirac founded and of which Juppe was a member.

Desmure is looking into the period 1988 to 1993, when Chirac was mayor and Juppe's boss. In addition to misuse of public funds, Juppe is under investigation for "illegal personal benefit" and fraud.

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