Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'What would you do?'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola virus: Liberia shuts most border points

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Netanyahu says Gaza operation will not end quickly

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Argentina braced for another debt default

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

Read more

#TECH 24

Internet of Things

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

  • Israeli strikes target symbols of Hamas power

    Read more

  • US says Russia violated arms treaty by testing cruise missile

    Read more

  • Argentina in last-ditch effort to avert default

    Read more

  • Karzai’s cousin killed in Afghan suicide attack

    Read more

  • Libya oil tanker fire blazes out of control

    Read more

  • In pictures: From Gaza to Mosul, bittersweet end of Ramadan for Muslims

    Read more

  • France offers asylum to Iraqi Christians

    Read more

  • Moroccan police arrest French al-Qaeda recruiter

    Read more

  • Israel warns of ‘prolonged’ campaign in Gaza

    Read more

  • French mayor files complaint against US father who risked kids’ lives on Mont Blanc

    Read more

  • French footballer Griezmann headed to Atletico Madrid

    Read more

  • Luc Besson’s sci-fi thriller ‘Lucy’ tops US box office

    Read more

  • Video: Slaviansk mourns mass grave victims

    Read more

  • France honours those lost on Air Algérie Flight AH5017

    Read more

  • Video: Ethiopia turns to wine to boost image, economy

    Read more

  • Thousands gather in Marseille in support of Israel

    Read more

France

Financial adviser's home raided in donation probe

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-10

French police searched the residence and office of a financial adviser to L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt on Friday over allegations that France's richest woman illegally made donations to President Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 campaign.

 AFP - Police on Friday searched the home and office of a financial adviser to France's richest woman as part of a probe into alleged illegal donations to President Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign, officials said.

The search of Patrice de Maistre's residence and firm came a day after police questioned the ex-accountant to Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L'Oreal cosmetics empire, about her allegations of cash gifts to Sarkozy.

Prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into claims by the accountant of a 150,000-euro (190,000-dollar) donation from Bettencourt given to Eric Woerth, Sarkozy's campaign fundraiser in 2007 who is now labour minister.

The scandal is the latest blow to Sarkozy, whose approval ratings are at an all-time low and who is battling to save Woerth over conflict of interest allegations linked to the 87-year-old billionaire.

The architect of pension reform, Woerth is to present a bill to cabinet next week that will raise the legal retirement age and push through a centerpiece of Sarkozy's agenda as he heads for a re-election fight in 2012.

Woerth has strenuously denied taking any illegal donations from Bettencourt and Sarkozy has dismissed the claims as a smear campaign, but the scandal has sparked calls for the high-profile minister to resign.

The accountant, Claire Thibout, told police during three hours of questioning on Thursday that the financial adviser had asked her "before the presidential election to go pick up 150,000 euros at the bank" according to a transcript obtained by the Mediapart website.

"When I asked him what the money was for, he said that he had a dinner planned with Mr Woerth to give it to him," she said.

But Thibout denied a report in Mediapart that Sarkozy was a regular visitor at Bettencourt's villa in the chic Paris suburb of Neuilly when he was mayor of the town and that he often received cash envelopes.

"I never said that envelopes were regularly passsed on to Mr Sarkozy," she said.

The Elysee presidential palace pounced on that partial retraction as proof that her account was dodgy.

"The truth has been restored," said Sarkozy's chief of staff Claude Gueant.

For his part, De Maistre denied any knowledge of the cash donation.

"I have no knowledge of the alleged existence of this handover of 150,000 euros," he told police during questioning on Tuesday, Le Monde newspaper reported.

In France private donors are forbidden from giving more than 7,500 euros per year to a political party and there are strict limits on how much can be raised in cash.

The mushrooming affair started with a report from the Mediapart website on conversations secretly recorded by Bettencourt's butler which revealed that the L'Oreal heiress plotted to evade taxes.

Woerth has been accused of a conflict of interest since his wife worked as a wealth manager for Bettencourt's 17-billion-euro fortune while he was budget minister tasked with fighting tax dodgers.

 

 

Date created : 2010-07-09

  • FRANCE

    Sarkozy to address donation scandal in TV appearance

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Bettencourt’s ex-accountant partially retracts statement in donations scandal

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Inquiry launched into L’Oreal/Sarkozy donations scandal

    Read more

COMMENT(S)