Photo: AP Images
Another day, another blow for Nicolas Sarkoy’s 2012 re-election campaign.Today, Eric Woerth — once Sarkozy’s budget minister and treasurer of his UMP party — was charged with peddling influence, AFP reports.
It is thought that the charges is related to the award of a Legion of honour (France’s highest award) to financial manager Patrice de Maistre, after he secured Woerth’s wife a job with his employer.
An investigation into allegations that he accepted envelopes full of cash from de Maistre’s employer, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, has not brought charges at present, though Woerth is still being investigated.
Bettencourt’s former accountant, Claire Thibout, has testified that she gave envelopes of money from her employer to Woerth for Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign. The money was allegedly significantly over the maximum amount that can be given by individuals under French law, potentially putting Sarkozy in big trouble.
The case has caused a huge scandal for Sarkozy already. Woerth left government in 2010 over the affair, The Guardian reports, which came to light after a legal battle over Bettencourt’s $23 billion fortune. A different Sarkozy ally was accused of spying on journalists from French paper Le Monde when they tried to investigate the cash payments.
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