Sarkozy’s home raided by police in campaign funding inquiry
Alleged illegal donations from L’Oréal heiress probed after former leader loses immunity
Wednesday 04 July 2012
French police have raided the home and offices of former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, as part of a probe into suspected illegal financing of his 2007 presidential campaign by France's richest woman, the L'Oréal heiress.
Yesterday's searches were part of an investigation into financing of Mr Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign and alleged brown envelopes of cash from Liliane Bettencourt.
Detectives searched the mansion rented by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in a gated community in the west of Paris where she and the former President live with Bruni's 11-year-old son and the couple's new baby daughter.
The office of the legal firm where Sarkozy is a partner and a new office he moved into after losing the presidential election to Francois Hollande in May were also searched. The couple were not present during the searches, their lawyer said yesterday. Judicial immunity which protected Mr Sarkozy from legal investigations expired on 15 June.
The probe centres on the finances of Ms Bettencourt. A long-running family feud over her cosmetics fortune ballooned into a multi-layered investigation and political affair two years ago. Allegations then emerged that she provided illegal campaign cash to Sarkozy's party during the 2007 campaign. But he vigorously denies the claims.
The allegations struck a chord with Mr Sarkozy's critics, who were frustrated with his handling of the recession-hit economy and saw him as too cozy with the rich.
An accountant for Ms Bettencourt said in 2010 that she gave €50,000 in cash in 2007 to Mr Sarkozy's party treasurer for the presidential campaign – well beyond the €4,600 legal limit on individual donations. A book released last year suggested that Sarkozy himself received undeclared campaign money.
A judge in Bordeaux is currently investigating whether Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party benefited from envelopes of cash from the ageing and mentally fragile Ms Bettencourt, during Sarkozy's successful election campaign in 2007. In February, Eric Woerth, the former French budget minister and treasurer of Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, was placed under judicial investigation over cash he was alleged to have received from the billionaire Ms Bettencourt to fund the 2007 campaign. He denies any wrongdoing.
Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said the raids would show nothing and that he had already supplied information to investigators that debunked suspicions of secret meetings with Bettencourt.
"These raids... will as expected prove futile," he said in a statement last night.
He said magistrates looking into whether Sarkozy had received campaign funds from Ms Bettencourt had been supplied with diary details of all Sarkozy appointments in 2007.
The diary details proved "that the purported 'secret meetings' with Madame Liliane Bettencourt were impossible," he added.
Sarkozy, 57, who has taken a low profile since his defeat, could come under the spotlight in a number of legal cases now that he is no longer head of state.
He could also become a focus of the separate investigation into whether or not there was a shady "cabinet noir" at the highest reaches of the French government which used the secret services to spy on journalists at Le Monde to uncover their sources for stories about the Bettencourt affair.
A security chief and Sarkozy ally has been placed under investigation in the alleged political spying scandal. Sarkozy has denied any links to the case.
Days after losing his presidential immunity, relatives of French victims of a deadly bombing in Pakistan in 2003 filed a lawsuit accusing Sarkozy and two former advisers of violating a duty to secrecy in an investigation of the attack.
Justin Bieber was one of the hardest hit
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced marketeer is req...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting to join a s...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a large and well ...