French police officers, accompanied by Bordeaux judge Jean-Michel Gentil, stormed and searched the house and offices of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, a villa owned by his wife Carla Bruni, and the Arnaud, Claude and associates law firm, in which he is partner.
The searches ─ which took place while Sarkozy and Bruni were on vacation in Canada ─ came as part of the investigation into the Bettencourt case in which Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of L’Oreal Cosmetics and France’s richest woman, is said to have illegally funded Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.
The fraud squad officers, along with Gentil, took with them the diary which listed Sarkozy’s appointments during his 2007 campaign. Members of his security guard will be later summoned to verify those appointments. In one of those appointments Sarkozy reportedly received an amount of 150,000 euros to fund his campaign.
Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog expressed his surprise at the search since according to him all the documents needed for the cases have already been sent to Gentil.
Herzog argued that it is impossible for the investigators to prove that Sarkozy had secret appointments with Bettencourt.
He added that all Sarkozy’s movements and appointments during his 2007 election campaign were done under the supervision of the police. He also said that he sent to judge Gentil the names of the police officers who accompanied Sarkozy at the time so they could be summoned and questioned.
The officers, Herzog explained, will confirm that Sarkozy did not have an appointment on February 24, 2007 with Liliane Bettencourt’s late husband, André.
The Bettencourt scandal led Sarkozy’s Labor Minister Eric Woerth, who was also his campaign treasurer in 2007, to resign in 2010.
The issue was first raised by Bettencourt’s daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers who accused several of her mother’s advisors, like her wealth manager, of taking advantage of her dementia to get money from her. Funding Sarkozy’s campaign is allegedly one of those abuses of the heiress’s fortune, estimated at 16 billion euros ($20 billion).