Former French President, Nicholas Sarkozy (Sarkozy) has been charged in connection with a criminal probe into illegal party financing.
Sarkozy has been accused of taking financial advantage of elderly L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt (Bettencourt), 90, and breaching electoral spending limits. At least four former members of Bettencourt's staff have come forward with claims Sarkozy accepted envelopes stuffed with cash from Bettencourt to fund his 2007 election campaign, when medical experts contend Bettencourt's capacity was diminished.
Bettencourt's former accountant, Claire Thibout, told police that she handed cash to Patrice de Maistre, a member of Bettencourt's staff, on the understanding it would be passed to Sarkozy campaign treasurer, Eric Woerth. It is suspected that up to €4 million was received.
Since losing office, Sarkozy is no longer immune from prosecution and has faced a string of allegations for corruption relating to his 5 years in power including probes into the alleged awarding of contracts for opinion polls and an illegal police investigation into journalists.
Lawyers for Sarkozy have announced they will appeal the indictment.