Sarkozy Accused of Duping France's Richest Woman

He's put under judicial investigation

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 22, 2013 10:06 AM CDT

(Newser) – Nicolas Sarkozy's legal woes have just gotten worse. The former president was placed under judicial investigation yesterday after hours of questioning in a Bordeaux courthouse, for the alleged "abuse of someone in an impaired state," reports the AP. Investigators accuse Sarkozy and his UMP party of receiving upward of $5.2 million from Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of the L'Oreal fortune and France's richest woman, for the 2007 campaign, even though Bettencourt's health had been declining since the previous year, reports AFP.

Sarkozy has been targeted by investigators since last year over possible illegal campaign contributions from Bettencourt. His lawyer called the accusations "legally incoherent and unfair" and said he would seek to have them dropped immediately. In the French legal system, being placed under judicial investigation means the investigating magistrate has reason to believe wrongdoing was committed, but allows more time to investigate. The charges may later be dropped or could lead to a trial. A conviction of exploiting someone's weakened mental state can result in three years in jail, a fine of up to $484,000, and a five-year ban on holding public office.

Nicolas Sarkozy from his failed re-election campaign, on May 4, 2012.
Nicolas Sarkozy from his failed re-election campaign, on May 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
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