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Nicolas Sarkozy Remains Embroiled in the Bettencourt Affair

A court in Bordeaux, France, declined to nullify the probe involving France's former president.

PARIS — France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy is to remain under legal investigation in the Bettencourt affair, according to a court decision handed down in Bordeaux.

In March, Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation for profiting from L’Oréal heir Liliane Bettencourt’s frailty during his 2007 presidential campaign, as reported.

“The court validated the procedure in its entirety,” Nicolas Huc-Morel, the lawyer for the family of Bettencourt’s daughter Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, told reporters in Bordeaux.
 
The medical expertise concerning 90-year-old Bettencourt had been validated, as well, by the Bordeaux court of appeal’s investigation chamber, he confirmed, referring to doctors’ reports determining that Bettencourt’s dementia was established by late 2006. The examinations had resulted from Bettencourt Meyers’ longstanding claim that her mother’s ill health had been abused.

“The decision that was pronounced today is [one] that the Bettencourt Meyers family has awaited with impatience,” said Huc-Morel.

The Bettencourt affair began in December 2007, when Bettencourt Meyers brought a lawsuit against photographer François-Marie Banier. She alleged he exploited the weakness of her mother, who gave him assets valued at about 1 billion euros, or $1.35 billion at current exchange.

The family affair has subsequently taken innumerable twists and turns, blossoming even into an affair of state in July 2010, when an allegation surfaced that Eric Woerth, while serving in 2007 as France’s budget minister and treasurer for Sarkozy’s UMP party, received a campaign donation for Sarkozy from the Bettencourts that was well above the legal limit. It was also reported that Sarkozy had received envelopes of cash from them.

Bettencourt in October 2011 was placed under legal guardianship of her grandson, Jean-Victor Meyers. That status remains unchanged with the court decision on Tuesday.

The court decision does not impact the Bettencourt family’s relationship with L’Oréal, in which it holds a 30.5 percent stake, either.  Meyers replaced his grandmother on the company’s board in April 2012.

About a dozen people remain under formal investigation in the Bettencourt affair in Bordeaux.