Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Jewellery, a lucrative and rapidly growing sector of the fashion and luxury market

Read more

#THE 51%

Decision makers in Deauville: The 10th annual Women’s Forum

Read more

FOCUS

Tackling the taboo of infertility in Cameroon

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Beyond Kobani: Jihadists resist strikes in Syria and gain ground in Iraq

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalian president

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Nigeria: Reports of ceasefire between government and Boko Haram

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Might #BringBackOurGirls have worked?

Read more

WEB NEWS

Video tackles prejudice towards West African as Ebola spreads

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Aubry adds to Hollande's woes

Read more

France

Questioned by police, Labour Minister denies wrongdoing

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-07-29

Scandal-plagued French Labour Minister Eric Woerth denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest when police questioned him for eight hours Thursday in connection with financial scandals surrounding France's richest woman, his lawyer said.

French Labour Minister Eric Woerth denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest when police questioned him Thursday in connection with financial scandals surrounding France's richest woman, his lawyer said.

Police questioned Woerth for eight hours as part of inquiries into whether L'Oreal cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt illegally bankrolled President Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign among other allegations.

Woerth's lawyer Jean-Yves Leborgne said after the police interview that his client was now "out of the controversy."

Woerth has been forced to quit his post as treasurer of the ruling UMP party in the wake of a widening scandal that has rocked the government of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

FRANCE 24’s French Politics Editor Marc Perelman said police questioned Woerth over three separate incidents that have come to haunt the embattled minister.

“The most sensitive issue is the potential illegal financing of the ruling UMP party,” he said.

Earlier this month Bettencourt’s former accountant, Claire Thibout, told police that she had witnessed illegal cash donations being handed directly to Eric Woerth for Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign.

Police are trying to determine whether Woerth received 150,000 euros in cash from the Bettencourt family to help Sarkozy’s presidential bid, as Thibout claims.

Woerth has been accused of using his political leverage to help the super-wealthy family avoid tax audits and to secure a job for his wife Florence Woerth with de Maistre’s firm.

A government report released on July 11 stated that Woerth had not helped the Bettencourt household evade taxes during his time as budget minister. Woerth himself has strenuously denied any conflict of interest.



“Eric Woerth gave the Legion of Honour to Patrice de Maistre. This is a very big honour here in France,” added Perelman. “Police want to know if this is also part of a quid pro quo arrangement”

Relieved to be questioned

Woerth previously stated that he wanted to speak to police quickly in order to dispel the allegations, which have continued to hurt the Sarkozy government of Nicolas Sarkozy and threaten to spoil its summer recess.

"The image of the government and the president, which is already battered, is probably reaching new lows," said Perelman.

While the minister is set to step down as UMP treasurer on Friday, he has refused to resign as minister and has vowed to continue to push through the unpopular pension reform package he is championing.

“Woerth said he would be relieved to meet police, but this may not be the last time he is questioned,” says Perelman. “These overlapping investigations are evolving at a rapid pace.”

Date created : 2010-07-29

  • FRANCE

    Police raid home of L'Oreal heiress's daughter

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Judge rejects legal guardianship of L'Oréal heiress

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    The Bettencourt scandal: Sarkozy and the media face off

    Read more

COMMENT(S)