French ex-envoy Boris Boillon in mystery cash trial

Boris Boillon (file pic 2011) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Known for his black suits and white shirts, he was once dubbed the "James Bond of the diplomatic world"

For years a rising star in France's diplomatic corps, Boris Boillon has gone on trial over the discovery of bundles of cash in his bags at a station in Paris.

He made his name as the youngest ambassador under President Nicolas Sarkozy and dubbed himself "Sarko boy", serving in Iraq and Tunisia.

But he was stopped trying to take a train to Belgium in 2013 while carrying large amounts of euros and dollars.

He faces charges of tax fraud.

Under French law, any amount taken across EU borders over €10,000 has to be declared, but Mr Boillon was apparently carrying €350,000 (£300,000; $390,000) and $40,000. The cash was reportedly in €50, €100, €200 and €500 notes.

'French James Bond'

A colourful character, Boris Boillon has appeared on the front of a celebrity magazine under the headline "The James Bond of the diplomatic world".

Known for his black suits and white shirts, he fell out of favour in the French foreign ministry for some years after the fall of President Sarkozy. He was brought back into the diplomatic service last year and worked at the UN in New York.

He argues that the money was payment for work he had done as a private consultant in Iraq, but he is accused of covering up tax fraud as well as several other charges.

He says the company he was working for was involved in the reconstruction of Iraq and the money was declared by his consultancy firm Spartago. While carrying that amount of cash was unusual, his lawyer said it was common in Iraq because there was no banking system.

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