Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy may come under a criminal investigation in connection with illegal contributions made to his 2007 political campaign by France’s wealthiest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
According to reports, Sarkozy, who lost his bid to be reelected earlier this year to Francois Hollande -- will face a judge at the Palais de Justice in Bordeaux on Thursday to answer the corruption allegation.
Judge Jean-Michel Gentil will ask Sarkozy if he accepted hundreds of thousands of euros from Bettencourt for his successful 2007 presidential campaign in exchange for huge tax breaks.
Investigators will probe allegations that the illegal campaign cash was withdrawn from Swiss bank accounts and were delivered to Sarkozy or his aides in envelopes.
Judicial sources told Agence France Presse that Sarkozy may even be indicted, which would lead to the humiliation of a criminal trial that his predecessor president, Jacques Chirac, also endured. (Chirac, who was convicted of fraud, served a suspended prison sentence.)
The former president faces a number of other potential criminal cases -- among other things, judges will probe into accusations that, while in power, Sarkozy spent millions of euros to distort opinion polls by bribing polling officials.
Other explosive allegations include reports that Sarkozy received millions of euros from ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and that he was engaged in fraud in connection with France’s sale of submarines to Pakistan.
Sarkozy has denied all allegations. He has even hinted he may again run for president in 2007.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.