Sarkozy in court over donations

Fri, Nov 23, 2012, 00:00

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, has been questioned by a judge over allegations that he received envelopes stuffed with cash to fund his successful 2007 election campaign.

The illegal donations are said to have come from L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, the richest woman in France.

Mr Sarkozy was also questioned over allegations he and supporters took advantage of the 90-year-old billionaire’s frail state of mind and that he used his presidential power to hamper criminal investigations into the scandal.

The former leader, who lost his immunity from prosecution when he failed to secure a second term in office in May, has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Sarkozy arrived at Bordeaux airport by private jet and was driven to the courthouse in a Renault Espace with blacked-out windows. He declined to comment as he entered the Palais de Justice and his appearance before the judge was closed to the press and public.

He is accused of accepting €150,000 from Ms Bettencourt in campaign donations, contrary to election rules that limit donations to €4,600. Police raided his home and offices in July as part of the inquiry.