“Preliminary charges have been filed against Nicolas Sarkozy over allegations he took financial advantage of an elderly L’Oreal heiress.
The move means the former French president is under formal investigation, accused of accepting envelopes stuffed with cash from Liliane Bettencourt to illegally finance his 2007 election campaign.
The 90-year-old was declared in a state of dementia in 2006 and was placed under the guardianship of her family in 2011.
The preliminary charges were issued after Mr Sarkozy was questioned for several hours in a Bordeaux courthouse, according to the prosecutor’s office.
A statement said he had been placed under investigation “for taking advantage of a vulnerable person in February 2007 and during 2007 to the detriment of Liliane Bettencourt”.
Under French law, preliminary charges mean the investigating magistrate has reason to believe wrongdoing was committed, but allows more time to investigate. The charges may later be dropped or could lead to a trial.
Mr Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog criticised the decision as “legally incoherent and unfair”.
Earlier, the former president was unexpectedly summoned for a face-to-face encounter with Ms Bettencourt’s ex-butler Pascal Bonnefoy over the claims….”Twitter