French investigating judges plan to seize hundreds of millions of euros worth of assets and bank accounts belonging to the business tycoon Bernard Tapie.
The move is the latest twist in the 'Tapie-Sarkozy scandal' - the alleged fixing by former President Nicolas Sarkozy and his staff of a supposedly independent €405m arbitration in Mr Tapie's favour in 2008.
Mr Tapie, 70, and three other people, including a senior retired judge, have been formally accused of "conspiracy to defraud" the French state. To justify the seizure of his assets - including several properties, controlling shares in two newspapers and the contents of fifteen bank accounts - the three investigating judges said: "Bernard Tapie appears to be the principal beneficiary.. of a fraud which he appears to have helped to organise."
It is alleged that Mr Sarkozy's staff conspired with Mr Tapie and others to impose a sweetheart settlement in 2008 of a 15-year legal wrangle between the tycoon and the French state. Both Mr Sarkozy and his friend, Mr Tapie, deny all wrong-doing.