Former mayor of the French city of Tours committed suicide on Tuesday before standing a trial for his alleged connection with the so-called “Chinese Weddings” fraud, local media reported.
Jean Germain served as mayor of Tours from 1995 to 2014. He is also a Socialist Senator.
According to reports, the 67 year-old was expected to attend a trial on Tuesday morning over charges of “illegal taking of interests and complicity of embezzlement of public funds”.
Germain was accused of letting a member of his cabinet, who was recruited to promote France-China relations, defraud the city in the so-called “Chinese Weddings” fraud.
Lise Han, a Taiwanese, was suspected of awarding public contracts to her own company called Blue Lotus while serving as Germain’s councilor.
The company organised weddings for Chinese newly-weds, who were invited to Tours to “remarry” in fake ceremonies.
More than 200 couples from China symbolically tied the knot in Tours between 2007 and 2011. Han reportedly earned tens of thousands of euros via the scheme.
The trial was suspended when Germain failed to attend and his lawyer subsequently read a note that found in the politician’s car.
“I have never defrauded the city for a single cent, nor made myself rich and I have always worked for what I believed was in the best interests of the people of Tours,” Germain wrote.
He said he believed the trial was “politically motivated.”
Police confirmed they had found the politician’s body near his home.
In a joint press meeting with his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi, French President Francois Hollande expressed his “great sadness” over the death of the Socialist Senator and sent condolences to his family.