Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy Loses immunity, To be Investigated

Mr Sarkozy has dismissed as mere gossip claims that he took envelopes stuffed with cash.

Mr Sarkozy has dismissed as mere gossip claims that he took envelopes stuffed with cash.

French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under formal investigation over claims his 2007 election campaign received illegal donations from France’s richest woman.

Mr Sarkozy is accused of accepting thousands of euros from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, now aged 90.

The former leader denies taking financial advantage of Mrs Bettencourt.

His lawyer said he would file an appeal against the “incoherent and unfair decision”, AFP news agency reports.

Magistrate Jean-Michel Gentil, who leads the inquiry, unexpectedly summoned Mr Sarkozy for a face-to-face encounter with Mrs Bettencourt’s butler, Pascal Bonnefoy, in the city of Bordeaux.

The judge wanted to determine how often the politician had met Mrs Bettencourt in 2007.

While Mr Sarkozy has maintained he only saw her once during that year, the butler gave a different account on Thursday, the BBC’s Christian Fraser, in Paris, reports.

Following the hearing, prosecutors said the ex-president had been placed under formal investigation “for taking advantage of a vulnerable person during 2007 to the detriment of Liliane Bettencourt”.

Under French law the court’s decision falls short of a formal charge, our correspondent says.
Investigators will press ahead with the enquiry before deciding whether he should face a trial.
Home raided

The former president previously hinted that he was considering another tilt at the presidency in 2017. The outcome of the investigation could determine whether he will make a return to politics, observers say.

Police raided Mr Sarkozy’s home and offices last July after he lost his presidential immunity.

He was declared a material witness in November, which meant he was a suspect but had not been formally charged.

Mr Sarkozy met Mrs Bettencourt when he was mayor of the wealthiest suburb in Paris and forged a close friendship with her over the years, our correspondent says.

He was a regular visitor to the family mansion, according to her staff.

It is alleged that staff acting for Mrs Bettencourt gave 150,000 euros (£120,600) in cash to Mr Sarkozy’s aides during his successful 2007 campaign to become president.
Individual campaign contributions in France are limited to 4,600 euros.

bettencourtMrs Bettencourt’s former accountant, Claire Thibout, has alleged Mr Sarkozy’s campaign treasurer at the time – Eric Woerth, who later became budget minister – collected the cash in person.

She also revealed in a leaked police interview that Mr Sarkozy, while mayor of Neuilly from 1983 to 2002, paid “regular” visits to the Bettencourt house.

But Mr Sarkozy has dismissed as mere gossip claims that he took envelopes stuffed with cash.

“[The Bettencourt] never gave me a single penny and I never asked them for any,” the politician was quoted as saying by the Sud-Ouest newspaper.

Mr Woerth, who was forced to resign as UMP party treasurer in July as a result of the scandal, is already under formal investigation over the 150,000 euro payment allegations.

The allegations surrounding Mr Sarkozy and Mr Woerth first surfaced in connection with a trial over Mrs Bettencourt’s estimated 17bn euro fortune.

Mr Woerth denies any wrongdoing, as does Mrs Bettencourt.

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Posted by on March 22, 2013. Filed under WORLD. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

8 Responses to Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy Loses immunity, To be Investigated

  1. Anesutose Reply

    March 22, 2013 at 10:48 am

    So why are Zambias crying about RB losing immunity? Just last week, a former minister in the UK was jailed together with his ex wife for a traffic offence. Laws must not be selective and if any person breaks it, no need to debate issues. Ifyo ama leaders batumoila mu Africa because we make them believe they are above the law

  2. but here in zambia its a taboo to lift former president’s immunity!

  3. Anesutose Reply

    March 22, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Oh by the way, Tumfweko must always cite source of their stories. That is the rule of writing. I think you got this story from You shield yourselves against possible suits in case a story is inaccurate.

  4. Danje Lacky Reply

    March 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    In Zambia that is persecution

  5. OSMORE Reply

    March 22, 2013 at 2:08 pm


  6. She - knows Reply

    March 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Mu Zambia, bantu ba kwela mandeke to go and cry foul in the streets of a foreign state. Those MP’s who walked out of the session and that harlot who insulted parliament should know that Zambians can longer be taken for granted because what they shuned is a legitimate process to present the ex – president to the public in order to find out wether thier was wrong doing or not. Lets be resolute in these issues because us Africans tend to make our leaders untouchable instead of being accountable. Viva the French, let your ex – leader explain himself and clear the air.

  7. Democrat Reply

    March 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    If Sarkoz can lose immunity wat of nyama-soya? Tiyenayo-nayo.

  8. Leon Davies Reply

    March 24, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Indeed no one is above the law, otherwise it would be very unfair to jail others reason being that they have no immunity. In short, immunity or no immunity one has to face the in case of any abuse. This is a very good example for Zambia!!! Let the law take its course.

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