Sarkozy Cleared of Wrongdoing in Latest Chapter of Bettencourt Saga

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy while in office. Photo: Antonis Samaras for flickr.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy while in office. Photo: Antonis Samaras for flickr.

Charges against former French President Nicolas Sarkozy connected to his alleged involvement in the Bettencourt scandal have been dropped by a Bourdeaux court.

“In deciding to dismiss the case, the court has declared me innocent in the Bettencourt affair,” Sarkozy posted in his official Facebook page early Monday evening. “Two-and-a-half years of investigation. Three judges. Dozens of police. Twenty-two hours of questioning and confrontations. Four searches. Hundreds of articles calling into question my integrity during the presidential campaign….truth is finally established.”

Sarkozy was put under investigation this past March following accusations that he exploited L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt’s age and failing health in order to garner funds for his 2007 presidential campaign. Bettencourt — whose personal assets are estimated at 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion) — had been diagnosed with dementia in late 2006. In December 2007, Bettencourt’s daughter, Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, initiated a lawsuit against photographer Francois-Marie Banier for taking advantage of her deteriorating mental health.

The affair was thrust into the global spotlight a second time in July 2010 when allegations arose that Eric Woerth — the French budget minister and treasurer of Sarkozy’s UMP party — had accepted campaign money on Sarkozy’s behalf from Bettencourt amounting to far above the government-imposed limit. Sarkozy himself also reportedly received envelopes filled with cash from the Bettencourt family.

The investigation lasted well into late September before being dismissed this week. The decision to drop charges does not affect the Bettencourts’ 30.5% share in L’Oréal.

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  1. […] Charges against former French President Nicolas Sarkozy connected to his alleged involvement in the Bettencourt scandal have been dropped by a Bordeaux court. Sarkozy was put under investigation this past March following accusations that he exploited L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt’s age and failing health in order to garner funds for his 2007 presidential campaign. Bettencourt — whose personal assets are estimated at… […]

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