The Straits Times
Published on Nov 22, 2012

D-Day for former French president Sarkozy


PARIS (AFP) - Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is due to appear before an examining magistrate in Bordeaux on Thursday to respond to charges that his 2007 electoral campaign was financed with funds secured illegally from France's richest woman.

In a case that could wreck the 57-year-old's hopes of a political comeback, Mr Sarkozy is suspected of taking financial advantage of elderly L'Oreal heiress Ms Liliane Bettencourt at a time when she was too frail to fully understand what she was doing.

Examining magistrate Jean-Michel Gentil is expected to spend most of the day quizzing Mr Sarkozy about how he obtained funding from Ms Bettencourt. Ms Bettencourt is now 90 years old and has been in poor health since 2006.

The allegation against Mr Sarkozy is two-fold: that the money obtained from her took his campaign financing over legal limits and that it had been secured without her full knowledge or consent.