• France's news in English

Sarkozy denies 2007 illegal campaign funding

AFP · 4 Apr 2012, 07:15

Published: 04 Apr 2012 07:15 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday vehemently denied new accusations of illegal party financing that are threatening to overshadow his re-election campaign.

An investigation into alleged illegal financing of Sarkozy's 2007 campaign by L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt is gathering momentum alongside campaigning for the two-round presidential election in April and May.

But the right-winger on Tuesday again denied any wrong-doing, saying that in 2007 his campaign funding "was contested by no-one".

"The campaign funding commission certified the accounts and said 'there isn't a centime whose origin is in doubt, there isn't an expense for which one doesn't know where payment comes from,'" he told Canal+ television.

Sarkozy said he was not surprised by the resurgence of the illegal funding claims, adding that in the run-up to an election a few "stink bombs" were always thrown.

This drew outrage from Socialist candidate Francois Hollande's camp.

"To say that these are stink bombs is an insult to the justice system," said Jean-Marc Ayrault, a top Hollande advisor and leader of the Socialist parliamentary group.

Green candidate and former prosecutor Eva Joly last week called for Sarkozy to "give up his immunity (as head of state) and go and explain himself".

Investigating magistrate Jean-Michel Gentil has cited two dubious withdrawals of €400,000 ($530,000) each from Swiss bank accounts by an intermediary to Bettencourt's close aide Patrice de Maistre.

On March 23rd Gentil charged de Maistre with several alleged crimes and ordered him detained.

The first withdrawal was made on February 5th, 2007, two days before a meeting between de Maistre and Eric Woerth, who was at the time treasurer of Sarkozy's first successful campaign.

Woerth later became labour minister but resigned in 2010 as the campaign financing probe gathered pace. In 2011 police carried out searches of his home and of the ruling UMP party's office in connection with the case.

Bettencourt's accountant, Claire Thibout, has testified to having been asked a number of times in 2007 to provide batches of €150,000 to Woerth.

The second questionable withdrawal was made on April 26th, 2007 -- four days after the first round of the presidential election and over a week ahead of the second round on May 6th that Sarkozy went on to win.

On April 26th, former Bettencourt confidante and photographer Francois-Marie Banier wrote in his diary that the heiress told him: "De Maistre told me that Sarkozy had asked for money again. I said yes."

But Le Monde newspaper later quoted Banier as seeking to play down the significance of his diary entry when he was interviewed by judge Gentil.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Homeless man does a runner from France's top restaurants
Photo: Prayitno/Flickr

"A man's gotta eat," he told police, after racking up gigantic bills in some of France's plushest restaurants.

Underwater museum hopes to make a splash in Marseille
A similar underwater museum piece by Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Don't forget your scuba gear...

Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Photo: Jacme/Flickr

Move over Paris...

And France's top chef of the year is... 'Monsieur Idiot'
Alexandre Couillon might have an unfortunate name, but he can sure cook!. Photo: AFP

Look beyond the name. He's the man who turned his family's humble "moules frites" joint into one of France's best seafood restaurants.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
Want to drive a scooter around Paris? Here's what you need to know
jobs available