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Nicolas Sarkozy placed under formal investigation

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Nicolas Sarkozy placed under formal investigation

Post  Panda on Fri 22 Mar - 8:50

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Nicolas Sarkozy placed under formal investigation

Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under formal investigation for allegedly
taking advantage of the ailing L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and accepting
cash-stuffed brown envelopes from her to illegally fund his 2007 election

Mr Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry
Herzog, said he denied any wrongdoing and would appeal the decision Photo: AFP

By Henry Samuel, in Paris

11:14PM GMT 21 Mar 2013

The surprise move came after the former French president was unexpectedly
summoned to Bordeaux for a face-to-face encounter in court with staff members of
Mrs Bettencourt, 90.

These included Pascal Bonnefoy, the cosmetics heiress's former butler whose
secret recording of conversations between his employer and her entourage led to
a string of investigations, including one into alleged illegal political

Some 17 people are now under investigation in the complex affair.

During the hearing, the judge questioned Mr Sarkozy, 58, on the reason and
frequency of his visits to France's richest woman in the run-up to his election.

The former conservative leader has always maintained that he visited Mrs
Bettencourt's residence only once during the campaign to meet her late husband
André, contrary to testimony from several members of the billionaire's staff.

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Jean-Michel Gentil, the judge in charge of the case, spent 12 hours
interrogating Mr Sarkozy in November along with two other examining magistrates.

According to excerpts of his testimony, he said: "I have known the
Bettencourts since I was 28-years-old They never gave me a penny, I never gave
them one and I never asked them for anything. I was not going to start at 52 as
France's president."

The magistrates decided not to formally charge him at that time, instead
turning him into a material witness - a status meaning there was no prima facie
evidence against Mr Sarkozy but that he remained a suspect, allowing the judges
to continue investigating the allegations against him.

But after this latest round of questioning, the judges were clearly less
convinced by Mr Sarkozy's account about whether any money changed hands.

Preliminary charges were filed against Mr Sarkozy, meaning the investigating
magistrate has reason to believe wrongdoing was committed, but allows more time
to investigate. The charges may later be dropped or could lead to a trial.

Mr Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said he denied any wrongdoing and would
appeal the decision to place him under investigation, adding that the move was
"incoherent on a judicial level and unfair".

Doctors have concluded that Mrs Bettencourt has had dementia since 2006.

She was placed under the guardianship of her family in 2011.

Mr Sarkozy, it is alleged, obtained large amounts of money from her,
simultaneously breaching electoral spending limits – just 4,600 euros for an
individual - and taking advantage of a person weakened by ill health.

Mrs Bettencourt's former accountant, Claire Thibout, told police in 2010 that
she had handed envelopes stuffed with cash to Mrs Bettencourt's wealth manager,
Patrice de Maistre, on the understanding it was to be passed on to Mr Sarkozy's
campaign treasurer, Eric Woerth.

Investigators suspect up to four million euros of Mrs Bettencourt's cash
subsequently made its way into Mr Sarkozy's party coffers after being withdrawn
from a Swiss bank account.

Mr Sarkozy lost his immunity from prosecution when he was defeated in the
2012 presidential election by Socialist Francois Hollande.

He is the second French president to face corruption charges after his
predecessor as president, Jacques Chirac, was convicted in 2011 on charges
related to his time as mayor of Paris.
I seem to remember Christine La Garde under suspicion with Sarkozy of malpractice regarding a loan which is probably why papers were taken from her Flat days ago.. What a shower French Politicians seem to be and for the head of the IMF to be suspect is very embarassing.
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Re: Nicolas Sarkozy placed under formal investigation

Post  Panda on Tue 26 Mar - 8:53

Nicolas Sarkozy denounces 'unfounded' decision to investigate him

Nicolas Sarkozy broke his silence over a decision to press preliminary
charges against him in an illegal campaign funding probe on Monday, calling it
"unfair and unfounded".

Former French President Nicolas
Sarkozy enters a car as he leaves his residence in Paris. Photo:

By Henry Samuel

2:59PM GMT 25 Mar 2013

The former French president used his Facebook page to insist he had not
"abused the weakness" of France's richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, to obtain
illicit envelopes of cash from the l'Oréal heiress, who has senile dementia.

"I want to insist that, at no moment in my public life, did I betray the
duties of my office," Mr Sarkozy wrote.

"I will put all my energy into proving my integrity and honesty. The truth
will triumph in the end. I have no doubt about that."

Mr Sarkozy's lawyers are seeking to appeal a decision by three examining
magistrates to charge him in a case threatening to wreck his hopes of a
political comeback.

The conservative ex-leader was placed under formal investigation – one step
short of being charged – on Thursday after being summoned for face-to-face
encounters with former members of Mrs Bettencourt's staff, including two of her

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The confrontation was the latest chapter in a multifaceted probe into
allegations Mr Sarkozy persuaded the ailing cosmetics billionaire to donate
millions to his 2007 election campaign.

Mr Sarkozy used his Facebook page to insist he was innocent of the
accusation. Picture: AFP/Getty

Mrs Bettencourt's former accountant, Claire Thibout, has already told police
she handed over envelopes filled with cash which ended up in Mr Sarkozy's
campaign coffers.

He now faces up to three years in prison and a fine of more than £300,000 if
he is found guilty of exploiting Mrs Bettencourt's weakened mental state.

The decision to place Mr Sarkozy under investigation sparked a furious
response from his lawyers and Right-wing allies, who claimed the judge leading
the inquiry, Jean-Michel Gentil, was politically motivated. It came days after
Mr Sarkozy indicated that he might feel duty-bound to run for re-election in
2017 to save France five more years of Socialist rule.

The most virulent attack came from Henri Guaino, Mr Sarkozy's former special
adviser and speech writer, who said: "He dishonours a man, institutions and the
justice system."

This led to the judge instructing his lawyer, Remi Barousse, to pursue Mr
Guaino for making criminal insults.

On Monday, Mr Guaino, who could face a six-month prison sentence, remained
defiant, saying: "I won't change a comma of what I said about judge Gentil. Are
we in a Republic or a tyranny?"

Mr Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, on Sunday said Mr Gentil was among 81
judges who last year signed an opinion piece in Le Monde accusing Mr Sarkozy and
his predecessor Jacques Chirac of "wishing to protect the corrupt".

"Five days after signing this column, the same judge ordered four raids on
Sarkozy's home, his office and his secretary's house," Mr Herzog said.

In his Facebook message, Mr Sarkozy appeared slightly more placatory, saying:
"It goes without saying that I ask for no special treatment other than the right
of any citizen to impartial and serene justice.

"It is because I have faith in the judicial institution that I will pursue
the legal avenues open to any citizen."

Christophe Régnard, head of France's top magistrates' union, said the
ex-president's softer line was no accident. "It is perhaps linked to a poll out
today showing that 55 per cent of the French have faith in their justice
system," he said.

Despite the looming corruption case, almost two thirds of the French believe
the probe will not compromise Mr Sarkozy's political future, a poll out this
weekend suggested.

Gaël Sliman, from the BVA Institute said the poll underlined "the cynicism of
the French, who consider that at any rate their politicians are corrupt. As a
result, one can easily remain popular after a corruption case."

Top investigating magistrate Marc Trévidic said that claims that Mr Gentil
was politically motivated were "ridiculous" as "if anything he is a man of the

"When he was head of state, Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to put the judicial system
under his thumb. He failed. Now he has to to be accountable and he cannot
swallow it, it's as simple as that. But the way he is going about defending
himself is devastating."


First we have Berlesconi returning to Politics to "Save Italy", now Sarcozy is considering a comeback to save France, the arrogance of these two corrupt Politicians.!!!
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