The right wing political party of French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy is drifting in the direction of the neo-nazi National Front; and tearing itself apart about who is the new party leader.
Meanwhile, their old party leader, Sarkozy, is in trouble as well.
This video about the Sarkozy administration is called Woerth/Bettencourt scandal: “This government is not willing to tell the truth to the French”.
As Bloomberg news agency reports:
Sarkozy Questioned by Judge on Bettencourt Gifts, Campaign Funds
By Heather Smith – Nov 22, 2012 10:38 AM GMT+0100
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived today in Bordeaux to face judges investigating claims people close to Liliane Bettencourt took advantage of the 90-year-old’s mental frailty to access her fortune.
Sarkozy will be questioned on whether he, his 2007 presidential campaign or his party got gifts from the L’Oreal SA (OR) heiress while she wasn’t mentally fit to make such decisions, and if Bettencourt, France’s richest woman, was manipulated.
Sarkozy lost his bid for re-election in May, lifting the immunity that accompanies the post of president in France. He is the second former president in France’s modern era to face criminal inquiries after leaving office. His predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty of corruption during his time as mayor of Paris prior to his term as president, receiving a suspended jail sentence in December.
“The case is serious enough that after two years of investigation, the judge has enough information to bring Nicolas Sarkozy in like this,” said Laurent Dubois, a professor at Institute of Political Studies in Paris. “It’s possible — I’m not saying probable — that he’s charged.”
LCI television reported Sarkozy’s arrival at the judges’ office. A spokeswoman for the Bordeaux prosecutor and Herzog didn’t immediately return calls for comment.
Jean-Michel Gentil, the judge in charge of the investigations, led police on searches of Sarkozy’s Paris home and offices in July, seizing agendas to help trace meetings with the Bettencourts and their representatives. Sarkozy was out of the country at the time of the searches.
Investigators are trying to establish the veracity of statements like those from Bettencourt’s former accountant, who said she saw Sarkozy visit the family’s home and that the Bettencourts passed cash envelopes for Sarkozy during the campaign. French law caps cash gifts at 150 euros ($193), and doesn’t require individual donors be publicly declared.
Andre Bettencourt’s death that November  set in motion a family dispute over how his widow, heir to the L’Oreal founder and France’s richest woman, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, disposed of her fortune and whether she was mentally fit to make such decisions.
The Bordeaux investigations stem from that quarrel. Bettencourt is now under the court-ordered care of her family.
Herzog was questioned as a witness last month. He refused to answer questions as they involved confidential conversations with a client. Other former members of Sarkozy’s administration have been questioned as well in the investigations.
Bettencourt’s former financial adviser, Patrice de Maistre, and Eric Woerth, the treasurer of Sarkozy’s party during the campaign and a former budget minister, have been charged in the case. In total, over a dozen people have been charged in the probes spawned by the affair, Agence France-Presse said. The Bordeaux prosecutors’ office refused to confirm the number.
See also here.
- Sarkozy in court over Bettencourt donations scandal (guardian.co.uk)
- France’s Sarkozy to face questions over alleged illegal campaign funds (cnn.com)
- Sarkozy to face scandal inquiry (bbc.co.uk)
- Sarkozy faces allegations of accepting illegal donations (panarmenian.net)
- Sarkozy in Court Over Suspicions of Illegal Donations (nytimes.com)