Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's offices were raided by police on Tuesday, along with at least one of his homes, as reported by AFP and other media outlets. Sarkozy is facing allegations that he took large sums of money from supporter and L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt during his 2007 bid for the presidency.
His lawyer, Thierry Herzog, quickly denied any wrongdoing on Sarkozy's part. He told the media after the police had left that records from that time period would show that there was no possibility given Sarkozy's schedule during his campaign that the alleged meetings between him and Bettencourt could have occurred.
Here are some of the key details to emerge regarding the raid in Sarkozy's offices on Tuesday.
* Sarkozy and his family were not in France at the time of the raid, but in Canada on vacation, according to Herzog.
* Sarkozy is not the only French politician being investigated for his alleged ties to Bettencourt. CNN reported that Sarkozy's former labor minister, Eric Woerth, is also being investigated, as are members of his political party, Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
* Officials first looked into allegations of illegal campaign contributions involving Sarkozy back in September of last year, but investigators came up empty-handed.
* Sarkozy was immune from formal criminal investigation during the five years that he was president, according to Reuters. French law expressly forbids such action. Sarkozy's immunity from prosecution, however, reportedly ended in the middle of last month.
* France's new president, Francois Hollande, has vowed to get rid of the laws regarding presidential immunity, at least in regards to accusations that stem from circumstances that occurred before the person became president.
* An accountant for Bettencourt has claimed that she gave Sarkozy's campaign more than 50,000 euros during his first presidential bid. The maximum allowable amount for campaign contributions by an individual in France is 4,600 euros, as reported by the Associated Press.
* Herzog, for his part, told the press on Tuesday that he had given investigators excerpts from Sarkozy's campaign schedules in mid-June that proved that he could not have arranged any meetings with Bettencourt to either discuss or receive any illegal contributions.
* The investigation into allegations of illegal campaign contributions by Bettencourt is unlikely to be Sarkozy's only legal battle going forward. The Telegraph reported that now that the president's immunity has expired, he is likely to face at least four more investigations, all stemming from allegations of illegal campaign financing and corruption, whether regarding his own campaign or his involvement in those of other political figures.
Vanessa Evans is a musician, traveler, and freelance writer with an interest in European studies and events.
- Politics & Government
- Crime & Justice
- Liliane Bettencourt