France's government on Wednesday denied a claim it spent nearly $370,000 to build a temporary shower for President Nicolas Sarkozy at a 2008 summit site.
The claim stemmed from a report by France's state auditors on the $250 million spent on its six-month rotating presidency of the European Union last year. The report has not yet been made public, though certain findings were leaked to French news outlets.
Rene Dosiere, a leftist parliamentarian who frequently criticizes the conservative government for overspending, was quoted in French media as saying he saw the report and said it listed a $362,163 shower.
Dosiere was quoted as saying the shower was set up temporarily at the glass-domed Grand Palais so Sarkozy could use it during a major summit that launched the Union for the Mediterranean in July 2008.
But government spokesman Luc Chatel said that sum was not for a shower for Sarkozy, but for eight meeting rooms used by the 43 leaders who attended the summit.
Sarkozy "can take his shower at the Elysee (Palace) or at his home," Chatel said.
Dosiere did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment about the discrepancy.
Asked about the audit, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said $250 million was spent during France's six months heading the EU. Reacting to criticism about the high price tag, Valero said France had to deal with the Georgia-Russia conflict and the international financial crisis, and that the government had to spend money outfitting the Grand Palais because Paris doesn't have an international conference center.
He also said that Germany spent more during its 2007 EU leadership but did not provide a figure.