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Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency has been continually tainted with the whiff of scandal and questions over his cosy relationships with some of France’s richest people. Sarkozy’s presidency has been continually tainted with the whiff of scandal and questions over his cosy relationships with some of France’s richest people

Nicolas Sarkozy

7:00AM BST 01 Sep 2011

Two alleged scandals – the Bettencourt and Tapie affairs – are under judicial investigation and touch on support given to President Sarkozy during his successful 2007 election campaign.
Last year, an accountant for France’s richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt made made allegations that the L’Oreal heiress had given an illegal cash donation to Mr Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2007.
It is alleged that staff acting for Mrs Bettencourt gave an envelope stuffed with €150,000 (£132,000) in cash to Eric Woerth, the finance director of Sarkozy’s campaign formerly France’s employment minister.
If proved, the donation would be illegal because it is well over a £4,000 limit on individual donations to presidential campaigans.

Liliane Bettencourt

The Bettencourt investigations continues amid the latest allegations on Wednesday of a new witness to the donation seven months before President Sarkozy faces a re-election battle. Mr Sarkozy, his campaign and Mr Woerth deny any wrongdoing. Investigation is ongoing. Tapie Christine Lagarde, who took over the IMF after the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sex scaqndal, is being investigated by French courts for allegedly authorising a £270 million payout to a prominent President Sarkozy supporter when she was finance minister. The Court of Justice of the Republic, a special tribunal qualified to judge the conduct of France’s government ministers while in office, said that the she may have abused her position as finance minister in France to help Bernard Tapie, a controversial businessman. Ms Lagarde is accused of improperly intervening to decide a protrated dispute between Mr Tapiet, a convicted football match fixer and tax dodger who supported Mr Sarkozy’s governing UMP party. An investigation is ongoing. Ms Lagarde denies any wrongdoing. Karachigate President Sarkozy has also been dogged by an ongoing investigation into kickbacks that were paid on the €800 million (£707m) sale of three French Agosta 90B submarines to Pakistan in 1994. There are suspicions that €80 million in “commissions” legally paid to senior Pakistanis were recycled back to France and the failed presidential campaign fund of Edouard Balladur, the then French Prime Minister. Mr Sarkozy, then the budget minister, was the Balladur campaign spokesman. When Jacques Chirac became President in May 1995, it is alleged that he cancelled remaining Pakistani “commissions” to punish Mr Balladur for his rivalry. The cancellation of the payments have been linked by some to a bomb attack on a bus in Karachi in May 2002 in which 11 French engineers and four Pakistanis died. An investigation continues. All parties deny any wrongdoing. Clearstream Last year, Dominique de Villepin, the former French prime minister, was cleared after the “trial of the century” of being part of a conspiracy to smear Mr Sarkozy and sabotage his campaign to become president in 2007. Mr Villepin, who became prime minister in 2005 after stints as foreign and interior minister, had been accused of using faked documents to link Mr Sarkozy to the Clearstream corruption probe as the two competed to succeed the ageing Chirac. Perks In 2010, President Sarkozy was forced to order members of his government to “vigorously reduce” their spending after a string of scandals claimed political scalps and mired his administration in allegations of profligacy. His development minister resigned in the aftermath of outrage that he spent €116,500 (£96,000) on a private jet to take him to Martinique for a conference. He was joined by the minister for the Paris regional economy who stepped down after it emerged he spent €12,000 (£9,759) of taxpayers’ money on Havana cigars.

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