Thursday, September 1, 2011

'Sarkozy got cash from L'Oreal heiress'

French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Source: Press TV

A French judge has said that President Nicolas Sarkozy personally received cash handouts from L'Oreal cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 election campaign, Press TV reports.

Judge Isabelle Prevost-Desprez, who first investigated the matter, made the charges in a book titled Sarko m'a tuer" (Sarko Killed Me) by two investigative journalists with Le Monde newspaper that is scheduled to go on sale Thursday.

French President Sarkozy has, however, dismissed the allegations.

"These allegations are scandalous, unfounded and untruthful," said a spokesperson for Sarkozy on Wednesday.

The authors of the book, who have covered the Sarkozy administration, quoted Judge Prevost-Desprez as saying that the personal nurse of Lilliane Bettencourt claimed to have watched Bettencourt directly hand cash directly to Sarkozy.

Members of Sarkozy's UMP party questioned the timing of publicizing the allegations while Socialist leaders called for a full investigation of the new claims.

The allegations could threaten Sarkozy's presidential re-election chances that already appear dim due to his low approval ratings.

In 2010, French prosecutors started a probe into allegations that Sarkozy received illegal funding for his election campaigns in 2007.

The prosecutor's office in Paris launched its investigations after receiving a report by a former accountant to Bettencourt, France's wealthiest woman, which claimed that the billionaire gave EUR 150,000 (USD 188,000) in secret cash to the treasurer for President Sarkozy's UMP party, Eric Woerth.

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