Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Hundreds of Malawians arrive in Blantyre after wave of xenophobic attacks in South Africa

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Reactions to the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz" trial

Read more

DEBATE

Judging the Past: Auschwitz 'bookkeeper' goes on trial in Germany (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Judging the Past: Auschwitz 'bookkeeper' goes on trial in Germany (part 1)

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Al-Shabaab bomb kills 4 unicef workers in Somalia

Read more

ENCORE!

Caitlin Doughty invites us to 'Ask a Mortician'

Read more

FOCUS

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld publish memoirs of Nazi-hunting years

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

'Liberalism is a French tradition', says France's most liberal man

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Xenophobic attacks in South Africa prompt regional crisis

Read more

France

Labour Minister eager to speak to corruption investigators

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-11

French Labor Minister Eric Woerth says he wants to speak with investigators to clear his name in a corruption probe over the fortune of L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, according to a French newspaper.

AP - France’s labor minister says he wants to speak with investigators soon to clear his name in a snowballing scandal that has destabilized President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government.

The Le Journal du Dimanche Sunday newspaper quoted Labor Minister Eric Woerth as saying he is “at the disposal of police and the justice system.”

An inquiry into the affair “is a good thing, it allows you to tell the truth,” he said.

Woerth faces pointed questions about his links to L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt amid a scandal over her fortune and questions about campaign contributions.

Sarkozy has strongly backed Woerth, who is in charge of his unpopular pension reform program to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. In doing so, the president has faced dismal approval ratings and has strained to keep his government and conservative party from unraveling.

One facet of the scandal focuses on allegations of tax evasion. Bettencourt’s financial adviser has acknowledged that she kept 78 million euros ($97 million) in two foreign accounts and has promised to get her affairs in order.

Woerth’s wife worked at a firm that helped manage Bettencourt’s fortune but quit when the scandal broke. Woerth himself was budget minister until months ago, leading a high-profile crackdown against tax dodging. The couple have denied any conflict of interest.

How French politicians and parties are funded

The affair took a new twist last week into the issue of political party financing. Woerth, in addition to his governmental duties, has long been the treasurer of Sarkozy’s UMP party.

Bettencourt’s former accountant told an online news outlet and French investigators that the heiress’ financial adviser gave ¤150,000 in cash to Woerth to contribute to Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.

Both Woerth and Sarkozy have strongly denied the allegation but French prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into the party financing claims.

Separately, an intergovernmental financial inspection agency is investigating Bettencourt’s tax history.
 

Date created : 2010-07-11

  • FRANCE

    Embattled Labour Minister Woerth ‘will not resign’

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    L’Oreal tax scandal intensifies for French minister Woerth

    Read more

COMMENT(S)