June 10, 2014 / 11:46 AM / 4 years ago

EDF boss Proglio faces preliminary corruption probe

PARIS, June 10 (Reuters) - EDF’s Chief Executive Henri Proglio is facing a preliminary investigation into whether he funneled money from the state-owned utility to his actress and comedian wife Rachida Khalil, an official at the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

The official would not give further details, but Proglio gave an interview to Le Monde newspaper on Monday in which he denied some of the allegations, which were first reported by Le Point magazine.

“Where EDF is concerned, I have at no point placed pressure, either on the company or on any suppliers or contractors, to finance my wife’s performances,” Proglio told Le Monde.

Proglio’s mandate as head of EDF, a listed company that is France’s dominant power provider and is 84 percent owned by the government, is due to expire in November.

He has said he wants to continue in the role.

In France, a preliminary investigation is carried out by the police, after which an investigating magistrate decides whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a fuller investigation.

Le Point’s article said investigators, tipped off by anti-corruption officials at a number of banks, were looking at how Khalil came to amass 1.8 million euros ($2.45 million) in a year.

It alleged that some funds were transferred from contractors, and that the actress’s production company received financing from EDF’s charitable foundation.

In his Le Monde interview, Proglio acknowledged some confusion over his wife’s accounts. “She is an artist and her accounting is a bit artistic too,” he said - explaining that after Khalil had declared no revenue for 2011, tax authorities had established it at 181,122 euros.

But he noted this was “ten times less than the 1.8 million cited”.

He also said he had repayed a 60,000 euro sum that Khalil had received from an EDF-backed association in September 2012, before the couple were married in March 2013.

“As soon as I saw this, I took out my cheque book and reimbursed the full amount, well before this was mentioned in the press,” he said.

EDF confirmed that the comments attributed to Proglio by Le Monde were accurate, but declined further comment. Attempts by Reuters to reach Khalil were not successful. ($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Reporting by James Regan, Sophie Louet and Geert de Clercq; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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