Allegations that President Nicolas Sarkozy illegally took money from billionairess Liliane Bettencourt, now suspected of tax evasion, are stoking popular opposition to the social cuts Sarkozy and the financial markets are demanding in France: here.
In a television interview aimed to parry charges of corruption and conflict of interest, Sarkozy denied all wrongdoing and issued a brazen defense of the financial and social privileges of France’s billionaires: here.
Sarkozy moves to mend reputation
France: French President Nicolas Sarkozy appeared on national television on Monday night in a bid to salvage his administration’s tattered reputation.
Mr Sarkozy firmly rejected allegations that he took illegal cash donations from France’s richest woman, saying: “France is not a corrupt country – French public officials are people of great rigour.”
He backed Labour Minister Eric Woerth, accused of accepting €150,000 from Liliane Bettencourt, but said he would advise Mr Woerth to step down as treasurer of the ruling UMP party.
L’Oreal heiress quizzed on tax
France: The heiress to the L’Oreal cosmetics fortune was questioned by French investigators on Monday in a probe into her finances that has rocked President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government.
Police questioned Liliane Bettencourt, the richest woman in Europe, as a witness in a probe into alleged tax evasion – one prong of a multifaceted investigation that has mushroomed in recent weeks to include claims of illegal financing of Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign.
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