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New claims over L’Oreal heiress funding French presidential campaign

01-Sep-2011
Last updated on 20-Nov-2012 at 11:15 GMT

A Judge who investigated donations by L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt to fund Nicholas Sarkozy’s successful presidential campaign in 2007 claims that personal donations exchanged hands.

The claims have been published in a book launch in France today, entitled ‘Sarko m’a tuer’ (Sarkozy killed me), which contains an interview with the reputable magistrate Isabelle Prevost-Deprez.

The book has been researched and authored by two investigative journalists from the French national broadsheet Le Monde, and in the interview Prevost-Deprez makes clear references to personal donations made by Bettencourt to Sarkozy.

Pervost-Deprez makes reference to a reliable witness who claims to have seen Bettencourt, Europe’s richest woman, hand bank notes to the then French presidential candidate.

Bank notes passed from Bettencourt to Sarkozy - claim

The witness is said to be Liliane Bettencourt’s personal nurse, who, in an exert published in the French national newspaper Liberation, claims to have seen the bank notes being passed to Mr. Sarkozy, but says she was too apprehensive to formally report what she had witnessed.

The latest allegations re-open a case that has rocked French politics and the reputation of the L’Oreal name for over a year now, triggered by a legal challenge from Bettencourt’s daughter over whether or not she was capable of managing her day-to-day business affairs.

The saga took on a political dimension in June of last year when it was claimed that the heiress may have been evading taxes with the help of the wife of a French politician.

Woerth political scandal

Tapes leaked to the French press by Bettencourt’s former butler suggest, according to press reports, that she may have been evading taxes on a certain section of her fortune.

The tapes highlighted the possible involvement of the wife of France’s employment minister Eric Woerth, who, at the time the conversations were recorded, was the country’s budgetary minister.

The recorded tapes were also said to contain information to back up the claims of Liliane Bettencourt's daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, that her mother was not in full mental health.

Bettencourt’s personal fortune has been estimated to be around $20bn (€16.3bn), while the Bettencourt family still holds a 31 per cent stake in the global L’Oreal cosmetics.

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