Sarkozy denies receiving money from L'Oreal heiress

PARIS Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:22pm IST

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy jogs in Paris, November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy jogs in Paris, November 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Related Topics

Stocks

   

PARIS (Reuters) - Former president Nicolas Sarkozy denied receiving "a penny" in campaign funds from France's richest woman Liliane Bettencourt, according to excerpts of his testimony to judges published on Saturday by the French daily Sud-Ouest.

Sarkozy, who lost power in May, was questioned for 12 hours on Thursday by a judge who is trying to establish whether his election win in 2007 was aided by illegal funding by the L'Oreal heiress.

He denies any wrongdoing and his spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment on Saturday about the report.

"I have known the Bettencourts since I was 28-years-old. I am now 57," Sarkozy told judges, according to excerpts of his testimony published by Sud-Ouest.

"I have conducted five municipal campaigns," Sarkozy said about the Paris suburb Neuilly of which he was mayor and where Bettencourt and her daughter still live.

"They never gave me a penny, I never gave them one and I never asked them for anything. I was not going to start at 52 as France's president."

Sarkozy has bowed out of politics but remains a possible candidate for the conservative camp in the next presidential contest in 2017.

Initial suspicions over funding were fuelled three years ago when a woman who worked as an accountant for the mentally frail Bettencourt alleged that a large cash withdrawal was earmarked for Sarkozy's presidential election campaign.

Bettencourt was declared in a state of dementia in 2006 and was placed under the guardianship of her family in 2011.

Asked about Bettencourt's mental health, Sud-Ouest quoted Sarkozy as saying: "When I see her, I do not see any sign (of vulnerability). She is well dressed, she does not stutter, she does not say any implausible things."

The Bettencourt family, which is still the largest individual shareholder in cosmetics giant L'Oreal (OREP.PA) with a 30 percent stake, has long had close connections with the UMP Party of Sarkozy, who lost presidential immunity when he left office.

The judges who questioned Sarkozy classified him as a witness, a status in French judicial procedure which means he is not liable to face trial.

The Bettencourt affair is not the only thorn in Sarkozy's side. The former French president may also be asked to testify in two other judicial investigations concerning the terms of a submarine sale to Pakistan and lavish spending on opinion polls by his office when he was president. (Editing by Alison Williams)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Ebola Outbreak

REUTERS SHOWCASE

School Shooting

School Shooting

Two killed, four wounded in Washington state school shooting.  Full Article 

Mideast Crisis

Mideast Crisis

Kurds reject Erdogan report of deal with Syrian rebels to aid besieged Kobani.  Full Article 

Canada Shooting

Canada Shooting

Canada vows tougher laws as citizens worry in face of attacks.  Full Article 

"Unilateral Diktat"

"Unilateral Diktat"

Putin accuses United States of damaging world order.  Full Article 

Nuclear Threat

Nuclear Threat

U.S. general says he believes N. Korea can build nuclear warhead.  Full Article 

Hatchet Attack

Hatchet Attack

NYC police say hatchet attack by Islam convert was terrorism.  Full Article 

Bollywood World

Bollywood World

Read stories and reviews Bollywood films.  Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage