French police search Nicolas Sarkozy's home and office

Tuesday 03 July 2012 16.54
Police are investigating claims that aides to Nicolas Sarkozy received envelopes stuffed with cash
Police are investigating claims that aides to Nicolas Sarkozy received envelopes stuffed with cash

French police have searched Nicolas Sarkozy's offices and home as part of their probe into claims he was involved in illegal political campaign financing, his lawyer said.

Magistrates are investigating claims that staff for Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L'Oreal cosmetics empire and France's richest woman, gave envelopes stuffed with cash to Sarkozy aides to finance his 2007 campaign.

Around 10 police officers accompanied investigating magistrate Jean-Michel Gentil on the raid on his home and on offices he has recently rented in Paris, a source said.

Mr Sarkozy's lawyer Thierry Herzog said that the president, who was defeated in his re-election bid in May by the Socialist Francois Hollande, is currently in Canada with his family.

Le Monde newspaper's website said that investigators had also searched the lawyers' offices where Mr Sarkozy was once an associate.

Mr Sarkozy, who has denied any wrongdoing and whose presidential immunity from prosecution expired last month, has supplied his diary to judges to disprove claims from witnesses that he attended meetings in the Bettencourt household.

The witnesses, whose testimony was reported in the French press, claimed that Mr Sarkozy held meetings on at least two occasions in the Bettencourt home ahead of his presidential election win in 2007.

Mr Herzog has said that the detailed diary, from the time Mr Sarkozy was interior minister and under strict security restrictions, will prove that claims of him attending meetings at the household were "materially impossible".

Mr Sarkozy is facing potential questioning in a slew of legal probes into corruption and campaign financing violations.

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